USC Knocks Off No. 14 Arizona to Snap Four-Match Skid

    Sophomore libero Taylor Whittingham had a career-high 33 digs against the Wildcats.

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    Nov. 26, 2014

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    TUCSON, Ariz. - The USC women's volleyball team (15-14, 8-11 Pac-12) put together a complete match to take out No. 14 Arizona (22-9, 11-8 Pac-12) in four sets, 25-13, 25-20, 24-26, 25-18, at the McKale Center on Wednesday, Nov. 26. The Women of Troy spoiled the Wildcats' senior day and snapped a four-match losing streak, and in the process, became eligible for selection into the NCAA tournament.

    The Trojans got 20 kills (8e, 51att, .235) and 12 digs from junior outside hitter Samantha Bricio who posted her 16th double-double of the year (38th of her career). Bricio moved up the ladder from ninth to sixth in USC's record book for career attacks and put herself within seven points of second-place for all-time points.

    USC forged its victory with a balanced attack and received 12 kills apiece from sophomore outside hitters Ebony Nwanebu and Elise Ruddins. Nwanebu hit .231 (3e, 39att) and added a service ace to go with 10 digs for her fifth double-double of the season. Ruddins hit .310 (3e, 29att) to go with four blocks.

    In the middle, junior Alicia Ogoms tallied eight kills (1e, 16att) for a .438 hitting percentage and had eight blocks for 12.0 points. Senior middle blocker Hannah Schraer added four kills and two blocks. Trojan setters diversified their attack and helped USC hit .288 (60k, 16e, 153att) in the match. Sophomore Alice Pizzasegola put up 32 assists and matched her career high with 11 digs for her fourth double-double of the year (fifth of her career). Pizzasegola also served two aces. Senior Emily Young handed out 13 assists and had four kills (0e, 8att, .500) and a pair of blocks.

    The defensive-minded Trojans out-blocked the Wildcats, 10.5 to 6.0, and outpaced Arizona in the digging game, 82-69. Sophomore libero Taylor Whittingham set a new career mark with 33 digs (8.25 dps) and leapt into the USC single-season record books to stand in seventh place with 514 digs this year. Whittingham also notched a pair of service aces. Sophomore defensive specialist Anne Marie Schmidt contributed 10 digs.

    For the Wildcats, Madi Kingdon had 19 kills to lead her team (7e, 60att, .200). Kingdon also had 17 digs for a double-double and served one of Arizona's two service aces. Taylor Arizobal had nine kills (6e, 37att, .081), the other service ace, and three blocks. Setter Penina Snuka put up 42 assists and 13 digs for a double-double and added four kills (.667) and two blocks. Libero Ronni Lewis had 12 digs, but committed five errors in the serve and pass game.

    The Trojans were a runaway train in the first set as they ripped open a 7-2 lead at the onset and then went ahead by six points, 14-8, on three straight kills by Ruddins. Ogoms knocked down back-to-back quick sets from Pizzasegola to get USC in front, 16-9, and then Bricio went for three in a row and an 11-point lead at 22-11. The Cats scored two more points, but the Trojans closed out the set with a 3-0 run on a tip-kill from Bricio, a kill by Ruddins, and one from Schraer. USC hit .405 in the first set with 17 kills (2e) on 37 swings and produced a 76-percent sideout rate. The Trojans held Arizona to a .116 hitting percentage with just nine kills (4e, 43att) in the first set.

    USC established its game plan early in the second and made a run for it, but the Wildcats had an answer before the Trojans could close out the 25-20 win and go up, 2-0, in the match. USC scored five points in a row to lead, 9-2, and then went up, 10-3, when Young dumped her pass for a kill. The Women of Troy got a kill from Bricio, an ace from Whittingham, and another crosscourt terminator from Nwanebu to roll out to a 10-point lead, 20-10, before the Cats made their run. Arizona scored four straight, and then went back and forth with USC to get as close as three points when Kingdon's kill made it 22-19. Bricio knocked down the pipe-set from Pizzasegola for a kill and then Ruddins grabbed set point for the Trojans when her ball found the floor. Kingdon scored one more point before Ruddins put the set to bed with her final point. USC had 15 kills (6e, 39att) and hit .231 in the second frame to Arizona's .189 (13k, 6e, 37att).

    The third set was nothing like it predecessors. The teams were trapped in a tug-of-war that produced 17 tie scores before the Wildcats could close out a 26-24 win to get on the board. USC was the first to create some distance at 8-6 when Ogoms, Ruddins, and Young put up the triple block to stop Arizobal. But Arizobal countered with three straight kills to help the Cats lead, 11-9. USC knotted the scored again at 11 when Nwanebu had back-to-back kills, but Arizona went ahead again at 18-16. The Trojans came to life and scored four unanswered points with kills by Nwanebu and Bricio and a pair of big blocks to hold a 22-19 lead. With the end in sight, the Trojans couldn't hold off Arizona, which scored five straight points to go up, 24-22. Bricio stopped the bleeding on her kill before Whittingham served another ace to tie the score one last time at 24. The Cats got one more kill to go ahead and then Kingdon served her ace to seal the win. USC hit .184 in the third set and had 13 kills (6e) on 38 attempts.

    USC went ahead by four points, 8-4, quickly in the fourth set on back-to-back Arizona errors. The Wildcats strung together three kills to pull within a point, but that was as close as Arizona would get. USC was never threatened with another tie, and the Cats only got as close at two points from there on out. Ruddins tooled the Arizona block and then took a set from Nwanebu to score two straight points and extend USC's lead to four again at 17-13. Ogoms ran out on a slide and connected with a set from Young for a kill before Ruddins scored two in a row again for a 20-14 lead. USC went ahead by six points, 22-16, when Bricio put an overpassed dig to the floor, but Arizona did itself in with three errors down the stretch to seal a 25-18 win for the Trojans. USC hit .333 in the final frame (15k, 2e, 39att) and had an 84-percent sideout rate.

    The Women of Troy will celebrate Thanksgiving before their regular-season final against crosstown rival No. 17 UCLA (19-11, 10-9) on Black Friday (Nov. 28) at 8:30 p.m. PT. The Trojans' match with the Bruins will be broadcast live on ESPNU with Sam Gore and Karch Kiraly on the call. Following the match, USC will learn its postseason fate on Sunday (Nov. 30) during the NCAA's selection show set for 5:30 p.m. PT on ESPNU.

    For more information on the USC women's volleyball team and a complete schedule, please visit and follow @USCWomensVolley on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


    • USC improved to 60-19 in its all-time series with Arizona and has won nine of the last 10 meetings with the Wildcats including the last two straight.
    • The Trojans' victory over Arizona guarantees the team a .500 record, which makes USC eligible for selection into the NCAA postseason tournament.
    • USC's win snapped a four-match losing streak, which was the program's longest since a four-match streak that lasted from Oct. 3-17, 2009.
    • For the second straight match, USC had three players post double-doubles.
    • Junior OH Samantha Bricio finished with 20 kills and 12 digs for her 16th double-double this season (38th of her career).
    • Sophomore OH Ebony Nwanebu tallied 12 kills and 10 digs for her fifth double-double this season; also the fifth of her career.
    • Sophomore setter Alice Pizzasegola had 32 assists and 11 digs for her fourth double-double of the season; the fifth double-double of her career.
    • Sophomore libero Taylor Whittingham reached a new career mark with 33 digs. It was her second-career match over the 30-dig threshold and her 24th match of the season in double digits for digs. It was her 12th match with 20 digs or more this year.
    • Bricio moved up from ninth into sixth at USC for career attacks. She now has 3,720 and moved in front of Jessica Gysin (2006-09), Lonise Norfleet (1987-90), and Keao Burdine (2001-04). Bricio's 1,241 attacks this season rank her ninth in USC's single-season record books.
    • Bricio also earned her 567th point this season, which ties her own mark set in 2012 for most single-season points by a Trojan.
    • Whittingham moved four spots from 11th to seventh in USC's single-season record books for digs. She now has 514 and moved ahead of Natalie Hagglund (497 in 2010), Katie Haller (504 in 1992), and Alli Hillgren (508 in 2007 and 510 in 2009). Only All-American liberos Hagglund and Debora Seilhamer have had more digs in a single season than Whittingham has this year.