The USC women’s volleyball team was looking to get back in the win column after falling to the No. 8 Washington Huskies on Friday night. Instead, they were swept in three sets facing a tough opponent in the No. 22 Washington State Cougars.
USC looked out of rhythm from the jump, falling behind 0-3 to lead off the first set and struggling to find their footing throughout the entire match.
“I think we were out of rhythm from point one and never really could find our way,” head coach Brad Keller said following the loss. “We weren’t here. It was a bad day.”
The largest disparity between the two teams was in hitting percentage—WSU posted a .271 hitting percentage compared to USC’s .077.
USC trailed the Cougars for the entirety of the first set, with the largest margin being 11-17. Despite a sizable hill to climb, graduate middle blocker Candice Denny showed the team was not going down easy. She halted the Washington State run with a kill directly followed by an ace for a quick two-point swing. She sparked the Trojans who fought all the way back to bring the score within two points, before eventually dropping the first set 21-25.
The team came out with new energy in the second set, in part thanks to graduate outside hitter Brooke Botkin who started the set off with a block and a kill to give USC a 2-1 lead. The team rode this momentum throughout the set. Coming out of a timeout, junior opposite hitter Emilia Weske served an ace that put the team on their way to building their biggest lead of the day at 13-6. Slowly but surely though, the Cougars chipped away and were able to jump back out in front just in the nick of time to win the set 25-23.
The Trojans’ energy was gone by the third set. WSU took a quick lead and controlled the rest of the match, routing the Trojans 25-14 to complete the sweep.
The match contained many intense rallies and close points, but it felt like USC could not get a bounce to go their way and found themselves playing from behind for the majority of the match. The Cougars were able to capitalize on their opportunities with nearly double the Trojans’ kills— 45 to 26.
Post game, Keller emphasized how crucial it is for the team to return to playing their game before they head on the road next week.
“We need to get back to finding our way of playing and grittiness and the ability to make plays and serve tough and we didn’t do that today,” Keller said.
The team will look to get their record back to .500 on Friday when they travel into the altitude to take on Colorado.