USC women’s volleyball earns its third straight win over Arizona

The Trojans move to 12-4 overall and 4-1 in conference play.

Graduate middle blocker and setter Mia Tuaniga high-five during their match.

Senior outside hitter Skylar Fields led USC to victory over Arizona on Friday at the McKale Center 25-20, 22-25, 25-20, 25-20.

Fields led the team with 20 kills while hitting .311. This was her fifth straight match with at least 20 kills.

“She’s taking some of the biggest and most ridiculous swings in the most ridiculous situations, and she’s capitalizing on a great percentage of them,” head coach Brad Keller said. “So she can hit angles that a lot of players can’t.”

The Trojans’ offense hit .272, compared to Arizona’s .136.

Each set came down to the wire. USC committed 13 service errors.

“Serving comes high-risk, high-reward,” Fields said. “Trying to get aces, but errors are going to come with that.”

In the first set, the Trojans dominated offensively and recorded six blocks. They hit .281 while the Wildcats hit -.071 in the set.

“We work a ton on blocking and defense and transition and just trying to keep the ball off the floor,” Keller said. “That’s something that we were pretty poor at at the beginning of the season. The last I would say at least two to three weeks, it has been 75-80% defense [during practice].”

The Trojans found unique ways to bond during the match. As freshman outside hitter Jordan Wilson was subbed out after committing a service error, she and senior libero Keila Barra rested a hand against the other’s.

“Just, you know, having those good moments of reassurance are really good for us on the court whether we’re winning or losing,” Fields said. “It’s nice to know someone has your back.”

The second set resembled the first in that it was very back-and-forth. USC was down 11-10, and the following rally consisted of several sneaky attempts on both sides. Several players attempted to kill when the expectation was that they would set.

Service errors plagued both teams, with USC recording four and Arizona three. USC had a .333 hitting percentage in the second set, and Arizona topped that at .394.

Fields said Trojan supporters made their presence known.

“We had a lot of our family and friends come out from Southern California, and then also this is Jordan’s home state, so she had a nice crowd for us,” Fields said. “It’s really nice to have your fans travel with you.”

The second set was tied 21-21, but the Wildcats’ offense quickly turned this into 25-22 with three kills and one service ace while only giving up one kill to the Trojans.

“We still have highs and lows, which a lot of teams do,” Keller said. We got to get more consistent. So we can’t have the big dips.”

USC showed perseverance at several points during the third set by winning unusually long rallies. When the score was 2-2, Fields made several impressive digs to keep the rally alive, and it ended with a kill from Graduate middle blocker Kalyah Williams.

Fields, who was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week last week, had a career-high 13 digs. Keller praised Fields for her incredible effort in all aspects of the game.

“She’s a winner. At the end of the day, Skylar’s dreams are to play for the national team,” Keller said. “Skylar’s dreams are to do big things and to be a complete volleyball player and really to be a leader … the sky is the limit for Skylar.”

USC had a 13-11 lead. Although the score remained close, USC never trailed again in the set.

The Trojans were up 21-19. All that was needed was three attack errors from Arizona and a kill from Fields to close it out.

In the fourth set, USC had a tight 13-11 lead, but two kills in a row from Wilson increased the lead to four.

The freshman stand-out had the second-most kills for the Trojans with 13.

“Some of the ferocious plays she was making, and just the tenacity at which she went at it,” Keller said. “I was really pleased with how she just kept coming at it, just kept swinging, just kept being aggressive.”

The Wildcats came back and tied the fourth set at 17-17.

During a rally later in the set, senior outside hitter Emilia Weske lightly tapped the ball, forcing it to bounce way out in front of every defender. She followed that up with a block assist and another kill, giving the Trojans the momentum they needed to win the game.

Through all four sets, Weske had 12 kills while hitting .308. Williams recorded nine kills and hit .500.

“It’s really a weapon that we have on our team. is Wwe have a lot of hitters who can go off on any given night, any given circumstance,” Fields said. “I think it makes it hard for other teams to try to scout us and try to figure out who they’re going to try to shut down.”

The last three matches ended in a 3-1 victory for USC. The Trojans now head 90 minutes northwest of Tucson to face Arizona State on Sunday, October 9.

“It’s really a weapon that we have on our team. We have a lot of hitters who can go off on any given night, any given circumstance,” Fields said. “I think it makes it hard for other teams to try to scout us and try to figure out who they’re going to try to shut down.”