No. 21 USC Falls to No. 1 Stanford in Three|
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The Women of Troy got 14.0 points from sophomore outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu, who posted 11 kills (4e, 38att, .184) to go with a service ace, and three blocks (one solo). Nwanebu also added 10 digs to log her third double-double of the season. Junior outside hitter Samantha Bricio scored 12 kills (5e, 42att, .167) and had nine digs and a service ace. Sophomore outside hitter Elise Ruddins posted 10 kills (1e, 30att) and hit .300 to go with a service ace, five digs, and two blocks (one solo). The USC defense was led by sophomore libero Taylor Whittingham who had 20 digs and a service ace.
The Cardinal got it done in the middle where Inky Ajanaku and Merete Lutz each posted 13 kills. Ajanaku hit .364 (5e) on 22 swings while Lutz was unconscionable with just one error on 18 swings for a .667 hitting rate. Lutz also had two solo blocks. At the pins, Morgan Boukather added nine kills (2e, 24att, .292) with 11 digs while Jordan Burgess had six kills (3e, 32att, .094) with 14 digs. Madi Bugg set Stanford to a .254 hitting percentage in the match and had 37 assists with 14 digs for a double-double. Libero Kyle Gilbert had a match-high 21 digs.
The Trojans fought and stayed with the Cardinal in each of the first two sets. The opening frame had 10 tie scores and two lead changes, but Stanford took its final lead at 21-20 on a kill from Lutz. USC's only other point came from a Cardinal error before a pair of kills from Boukather sealed the first set, 25-21.
USC built a little three-point lead at 9-6 in the second set when Nwanebu knocked down a pipe-set kill from Emily Young, but the Cardinal ripped off a 5-0 run before Nwanebu's next kill stopped the bleeding momentarily. The Trojans led by two, twice, down the stretch including at 17-15, and again at 21-19, when Nwanebu and Alicia Ogoms stuffed an attack from Brittany Howard. But the Cardinal was relentless as it knotted the score for an 11th time. Stanford took leads two times, but the Trojans equalized until Lutz put down the last ball in a 25-23 Stanford win.
The Trojans struck first and led, 3-1, in the third set, but the Cardinal fought right back to tie the score for a third time at five-all on a kill from Howard. Stanford took the lead from there and quickly went up by eight points at 18-10 thanks to a 10-3 run. USC wasn't done though. Back-to-back kills from Ruddins and Bricio sparked a short Trojan comeback, but the Cardinal extended to an 11-point lead at 23-12 on a kill by Burgess. Bricio scored back-to-back kills and Burgess hit an error to prompt a Stanford timeout at 23-15, but Stanford closed out a 25-16 win on a kill from Boukather down the line.
USC will play its final home match of the regular season on Friday, Nov. 14. The Trojans host California (8-16, 0-14) at 7 p.m. PT at the Galen Center and will honor seniors Hayley Crone, Hannah Schraer, and Emily Young in pre-match Senior Night ceremonies. The USC-Cal match will be streamed live for free on the Pac-12 Networks USC portal and features a special Dads and Daughters promotion. It is also 2000's night at Galen Center with $1 popcorn and a special appearance by DJ Mal-Ski. Ticket stub holders from the USC-California football game receive free admission.
Fans can purchase tickets at GetTrojanTix.com or by calling 213-740-GOSC. For more information on the USC women's volleyball team and a complete schedule, please visit USCTrojans.com and follow @USCWomensVolley on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.