Trojans Vanquish Vikings to Advance to NCAA Second Round|
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Dec. 3, 2015
LOS ANGELES -- The top-seeded USC women's volleyball team (31-2) earned a four-set victory (25-16, 25-27, 25-14, 25-15) over Horizon League champion Cleveland State (26-7) in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship at Galen Center on Thursday, Dec. 3. The Women of Troy advance to the second round to face San Diego (22-9) and have won their first-round matchups under head coach Mick Haley 15 straight years.
Senior outside hitter Samantha Bricio had the hot hand for the Trojans and finished with 21 kills (3e, 50att, .360) to go with 14 digs for her 16th double-double of the season (56th career). Bricio got help from sophomore opposite hitter Brittany Abercrombie who amassed 10 kills (4e, 30att, .200) to go with two blocks. USC's other pin threat freshman Alyse Ford finished with nine kills (2e, 21att) to hit .333 and also had two blocks.
In the middle, senior Alicia Ogoms tallied eight kills (3e, 14att, .357) to go with two blocks while junior middle blocker Elise Ruddins had seven kills (0e, 14att) to hit .500 and produced a career-high eight blocks (one solo). The Women of Troy hit .338 in the match (60k 13e, 139att) on the setting of junior Alice Pizzasegola--who had 27 assists and four digs--and freshman Baylee Johnson's 29 assists and 11 digs. Johnson recorded her team-leading 17th double-double of the year and added five kills (1e, 10att, .400), a service ace, and four blocks.
The Trojans put up 10 blocks and held the Vikings to a .095 hitting rate (45k, 30e, 158att). Junior libero Taylor Whittingham led all players with 18 digs and freshman defender Victoria Garrick finished with 13 digs. Garrick, Pizzasegola, Abercrombie, and Johnson each served one ace in the match.
For Cleveland State, Grace Kauth led the way with 15 kills (8e, 44att, .159) and had 10 digs for the double-double. Alexis Middlebrooks earned 11 kills (6e, 31att, .161) and three blocks (one solo). Christina Toth finished with nine kills (6e, 36att, .083). Dayna Roberts had 15 digs and Nikki Holmes finished with 13 digs.
The Trojans seized control of the first set with four straight kills as they rolled out to a quick 5-1 lead. USC maintained a five-point distance from the Vikings for most of the set, but Cleveland State errors put a seven-point advantage in the Trojans' hands at 22-14. Bricio earned back-to-back kills and Johnson claimed a crosscourt kill before Ogoms sealed a 25-16 victory with her kill to give USC a 1-0 lead in the match.
The second set was an entirely different story. The score was tied 18 times and the lead changed hands seven times before the Vikings put the ball down for kills on the final two rallies of a 27-25 Cleveland State victory. Bricio had six kills and both Abercrombie and Ford produced three kills. USC hit .205 (15k, 6e, 44att) to out-do CSU's .140 (15k, 8e, 50att) but had four service errors, two reception errors, and two blocking errors to squander the set to the Vikings.
Out of the break, the Trojans showed no quarter and went off for 25-14 and 25-15 wins in the third and fourth sets to complete the 3-1 win. USC led by as many as 12 points in the third frame at 24-12 thanks to a .552 hitting percentage with 16 kills on 29 swings without an error. The Trojans also earned sideout on 13 of 14 opportunities (92 percent) to walk away with the third. The fourth was no different as the Women of Troy quickly created a 6-1 lead when Johnson served an ace. Bricio's third kill in five rallies put USC up by eight points, 18-10. Ford and Ruddins teamed up for a block to give the Trojans match point at 24-15 before Garrick dropped her serve to the Viking floor for an ace and the final point.
The Women of Troy will face San Diego (22-9) in a 7 p.m. PT match on Friday, Dec. 4, for the right to move on to the round of 16 and the regional semifinals of the San Diego Region.
For more information on the USC women's volleyball team and a complete schedule, please visit USCTrojans.com and follow @USCWomensVolley on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope.