Tar Heels Eliminate USC With Four-Set Win

    USC junior outside hitter Samantha Bricio led the Trojans with 22.0 points against North Carolina.

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    Dec. 6, 2014

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    CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The USC women's volleyball team (16-16) was eliminated from the 2014 NCAA Tournament in a four-set loss to seventh-seeded site host North Carolina (28-2) at Carmichael Arena on Saturday, Dec. 6. The Women of Troy had opportunities to win both sets two and three but came up short as the Tar Heels out-blocked the Trojans, 15-7.

    USC was led by junior outside hitter Samantha Bricio who put up 20 kills (7e, 72att, .181) to go with 10 digs for her 19th double-double of the season and the 41st of her career. Bricio also had two service aces and finished the season with 84, ranked second behind USC's single-season mark of 85 (also set by Bricio in 2013).

    The Trojans also had 13 kills (5e, 48att, .167) and eight digs from sophomore outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu. Fellow sophomore outside Elise Ruddins contributed 10 kills (7e, 28att, .107). Sophomore setter Alice Pizzasegola dished out 32 assists and picked up nine digs to go with a service ace while senior setter/hitter Emily Young had 14 assists. Defensively, sophomore libero Taylor Whittingham had 23 digs to lead the team while sophomore defensive specialist Anne Marie Schmidt tallied a career-best 19 digs.

    For the Tar Heels, Chaniel Nelson led the way with 16 kills (2e, 36att, .389) while Leigh Andrew had 12 kills (4e, 40att, .200) to go with 17 digs for a double-double. Victoria McPherson put up 12 kills (3e, 27att, .333) and had five blocks while Paige Neuenfeldt had a match-high nine blocks (one solo). Ece Taner had 24 digs to lead all players while setter Jordyn Schnabl finished with 35 assists, 20 digs, and a service ace.

    Bricio bounced a shot down the line to break a three-all tie in the first set and sparked a 4-1 Trojan run. Later, back-to-back kills by Ruddins pushed USC in front by four, 11-7. The Tar Heels remained close and cut the lead to one at 13-12, but USC went a run of its own (5-1) to lead by five at 18-13 when Bricio tooled the block for a kill out of the pipe. North Carolina wasn't done and flipped the script for its own 5-1 run to trail by just a point at 20-19. Bricio had to go crosscourt twice to maintain a 23-21 lead for the Trojans before Nwanebu's kill gave USC set point at 24-22. Ruddins had the final say with a shot off the Tar Heel block and a 25-23 Trojan victory. USC hit .256 in the first set and had 17 kills (6e, 43att) while UNC finished with a .262 hitting rate (15k, 4e) on 42 swings.

    North Carolina's early lead turned into a five-point USC advantage at 15-10 in the second set as the Trojans ripped through a 9-2 scoring run. The Tar Heels weren't done though. UNC used a 4-1 run to get within a pair of points at 16-14 and finally caught the Trojans at 20-all. USC went ahead on a crosscourt kill by Ruddins and held the 23-22 lead when Ruddins put one off the North Carolina block, but the Tar Heels pushed the set to extra points and drew two kills to win, 27-25, and even the match. USC hit .082 in the second frame (6e, 49att) and had just 10 kills to UNC's 18 kills. The Tar Heels put up a .189 hitting percentage with eight errors on their 53 attempts.

    USC led in the third by as many as four at 15-11, but the Tar Heels chipped away at the lead and found a way to tie the set for an eighth time at 18-all. North Carolina's 5-0 run put the Heels up by two, 20-18, but the Trojans kept on fighting to tie things up at 20-all and then again at 23 on back-to-back kills by Bricio. That was as close as the USC would get as McPherson and Nelson earned kills to seal a 25-23 win in the third and put UNC up, 2-1, in the match. The Trojans had 16 kills in the third and put up a .184 hitting rate (7e, 49att) against six blocks by the Tar Heels. North Carolina hit .222 with 13 kills (5e) on 36 swings.

    The Tar Heels bore down and ran away with the fourth set. UNC never trailed and had created a 10-5 lead by the time the Trojans earned their fourth kill. North Carolina continued to press and extended its lead to nine several times including at 18-9. USC tried to fight back but could only get as close as seven. Ogoms scored on a slide play before Bricio came through with another pipe-set kill to make the score 22-15, but the Heels had the final three points of the match to win the fourth set, 25-15. UNC posted three more blocks and held the Trojans to a .082 hitting percentage (9k, 6e, 36att). The Tar Heels' offense had its best outing in the fourth set with 18 kills (5e, 41att) for a .317 hitting rate.

    For complete scores from the NCAA tournament, visit NCAA.com/volleyball. 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.


    • USC had its streak of four straight appearances in the NCAA regional semifinals snapped. The Trojans have failed to advance to the regional semis just four times in 14 seasons under head coach Mick Haley.
    • The Trojans fell to 2-1 all-time against North Carolina (wins in 1999 and 2009), and dropped to 3-1 in all matches played in the state of North Carolina.
    • USC's postseason record fell to 119-36 (.768) with a 73-29 (.716) record in NCAA matches.
    • Junior OH Samantha Bricio finished with 20 kills and 10 digs for her 19th double-double outing this season and the 41st of her career.
    • Bricio recorded her 514th kill of the season and jumped two spots into a sixth-place tie in USC's single-season record book (Alex Jupiter, 2011). Only four other Trojans have registered 500 kills or more in a single season (Bibiana Candelas, Jupiter, Asia Kaczor, and Jennifer Kessy).
    • Bricio scored her 628.5th point of the season and moved into third all-time in USC single-season history. Only All-American Asia Kaczor OH has ever scored more points in one season (2006 and 2007) in a Trojans' uniform.
    • Sophomore libero Taylor Whittingham finished with 23 digs and had her 27th match of the season in double digits for digs; her 14th match over the 20-dig mark.
    • Whittingham finished the season with 571 digs to tie USC's fifth-best single season total set by All-American Debora Seilhamer (2004).