USC Eliminated by Hawai'i in Five-Set NCAA First-Round Match|
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Dec. 2, 2016
MINNEAPOLIS -- The USC women's volleyball team (18-14) was eliminated following a five-set loss (25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 16-25, 15-13) to No. 12-ranked Hawai'i (23-5) in the first round of the 2016 NCAA tournament at The Sports Pavilion on Friday, Dec. 2. The Women of Troy fought back from a 2-0 deficit to force the team's seventh five-set match of the season and faced 12 tie scores in the fifth set before the Rainbow Wahine completed the win to move into round two where they will face either No. 2-seed site host Minnesota or North Dakota on Saturday (Dec. 3).
The Trojans fought valiantly and earned sideout on 12 of 14 opportunities in the final set. Their 85-percent rate was not good enough only because Hawai'i earned sideout on 13 of 14 tries for a 92-percent rate. The Trojans were without starting outside hitter sophomore Alyse Ford and starting junior middle blocker Jordan Dunn, who was a last-minute scratch, but USC stretched its 26th consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament to the distance before bowing out.
Freshman outside hitter Khalia Lanier powered the Trojan offense with a career-high 29.5 points and finished with 26 kills (11e, 67att, .224) to go with 13 digs for her 16th double-double of the season. She also had a pair of service aces and three blocks (one solo). Lanier was one of four Trojans to score in double digits. Senior middle blocker Elise Ruddins totaled 16.0 points with 13 kills (2e, 21att, .524) to go with a service ace and three blocks (one solo).
At the opposite hitter position, junior Niki Withers logged 15.0 points on 14 kills (5e, 39att, .231) with two blocks, and junior Brittany Abercrombie had 11.5 points with 11 kills (6e, 29att, .172) and a block. Sophomore middle blocker Madison Murtagh got her sixth start of the season and finished with a match- and season-high seven blocks (two solo) to go with a pair of kills. Junior outside hitter Sarah Livingston filled in with two kills and three blocks.
USC hit .220 in the match and had 68 kills (28e, 182att). Senior setter Alice Pizzasegola dished out 26 assists and had seven digs while junior setter Reni Meyer-Whalley tallied 31 assists and 12 digs for her ninth double-double of the season. On defense, sophomore Victoria Garrick put up 14 digs. Senior libero Taylor Whittingham had the fourth 30-dig performance of her career and finished with 32 to go with seven assists and a career-high matching three service aces.
For the Wahine, Nikki Taylor carried the load with 23 kills (7e, 62att, .258) and 10 digs. Emily Maglio had 15 kills without an error (31att) and hit .484 with six blocks. McKenna Granato added 11 kills and 10 digs. Norene Iosia had 46 assists, 11 digs, two blocks, and an ace.
Ruddins terminated a rally to tie the first set at six all before Lanier's ace, a Trojan block, and back-to-back kills by Lanier and Withers completed a 5-0 USC run for a 10-6 lead. The Wahine responded with a 9-1 run to turn the tables and took a 15-11 lead, but the Trojans tied the score for the seventh time at 17-all on a crosscourt kill by Abercrombie. USC went ahead momentarily, but Hawai'i scored four straight to seize a 22-19 lead and completed a 25-22 win on a kill by Taylor. Despite its strong start, USC finished with a .116 hitting percentage (11k, 6e, 43att). The Wahine hit .193 (7e, 57att) and had 18 kills. Whittingham dug up 12 balls in the first frame.
An incredible 9-1 run by the Wahine that included five blocks helped Hawai'i take a 12-5 lead in the second set. The Trojans stayed within striking distance and closed the gap to four at 12-8 on a block by Murtagh and Withers. A solo block by Lanier put USC within four once more at 16-12. The Trojans went on a 4-1 run to trim the lead to four once more at 20-16, but the Wahine had all the right shots down the stretch to complete a 25-20 win for a 2-0 lead in the match. USC had 11 kills in the second and hit just .065 with nine errors (31att). Hawai'i posted 14 kills (4e, 30att) and hit .333 to go with seven blocks.
The Trojans built an early three-point lead, 7-4, in the third set, but Hawai'i responded to tie the score at seven all before taking a 9-8 lead. The score was tied seven more times before USC used a 4-1 run to go ahead, 17-15. The Wahine weren't done as their response netted an 18-17 lead on a kill by Taylor. The Trojans got a kill from Abercrombie to pull into the 16th tie of the set and then raced out to a 4-0 run to take set point at 24-21 on a kill by Ruddins. Hawai'i saved one, but Abercrombie put a crosscourt shot down for the final point in a 25-22 USC win.
Like it did in the third, USC came out and took a quick 7-3 lead in the fourth frame en route to a 25-16 finish. USC led by as many as nine points on two occasions and hit .390 with 19 kills (3e, 41att). USC led, 20-11, on a tool-shot kill from Withers. The Wahine chipped away and were within seven at 22-15, but Withers bounced a shot off the floor for a 23-15 lead before Murtagh and Lanier teamed up for the block. Hawai'i saved one set point before Lanier went down the line for the final kill in the set.
The final set was a torrid back-and-forth affair. Neither team relinquished any ground for the first 24 rallies. Each time the Trojans scored a kill, seemingly, Taylor came back with an answer. She finished with seven kills in the fifth set, but she didn't have a say in the end of the match. A pair of untimely Trojan errors put the Rainbow Wahine on top, 14-12, for the first two-point lead of the set. Lanier saved one match point when she scored her 26th kill out of the pipe, but her next shot went wide to seal a 15-13 win for Hawai'i.
For more information on the USC women's volleyball team and a complete schedule and results, please visit USCTrojans.com. Fans of the Women of Troy can follow @USCWomensVolley on Periscope, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram.