USC Completes Comeback to Beat Creighton in NCAA Regional Semi|
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Dec. 11, 2015
SAN DIEGO -- The top-seeded USC women's volleyball team (33-2) came back after dropping the first set to defeat 16th-seeded Creighton (27-9) in four sets, 25-27, 25-16, 25-16, 25-18, at Jenny Craig Pavilion in the San Diego Regional semifinals of the 2015 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship on Friday, Dec. 11. The Women of Troy advance to their fifth NCAA regional final in six years and will face ninth-seeded Kansas (29-2) on Saturday (Dec. 12) at 8 p.m. PT on ESPNU for the right to move on to the final four.
Senior outside hitter Samantha Bricio notched nine of her match-high 23 kills (8e, 47att, .319) in the fourth set and topped all players with 26.0 points. She also had two service aces and two blocks and finished with 14 digs to log her 17th double-double of the season (57th career). USC also got 13 kills (3e, 30att, .333) from freshman pin-hitter Alyse Ford, who added three digs and three blocks (one solo).
In the middle, senior Alicia Ogoms was the most efficient player on the court with 12 kills and just one error on 18 swings for a .611 hitting percentage. Ogoms also led all players in blocks with eight (one solo) and added a service ace for good measure. Her 17.5 points matched a career mark set earlier this season. Defensively, junior libero Taylor Whittingham led all players with 22 digs and added a pair of service aces and freshman defender Victoria Garrick tallied nine digs.
USC hit .253 in the match and finished with 58 kills (21e, 146att). Freshman setter Baylee Johnson dished out 32 assists and had a career-high 17 digs to produce her 18th double-double of the season. Johnson also served a career-best three aces. Junior setter Alice Pizzasegola had 15 assists and five digs.
For the Bluejays, Jaali Winters led with 12 kills (9e, 47att) but hit .064 to earn those points. Maggie Baumert had 37 assists for Creighton and finished with eight digs and four kills. Jess Bird earned nine kills (6e, 33att, .091) to go with 10 digs. Kate Elman had 15 digs. The Bluejays hit .118 on 153 swings (43k, 25e).
Creighton gutted out a first set that had seven ties and came up with a 27-25 win to shock the Trojans. The Bluejays flew out to a 4-1 lead and stayed ahead until USC pulled even at eight-all on a block by Ford. Ford returned to terrorize the Creighton defense with her kill and gave the Trojans their first lead at 10-9. USC scored a three-point lead at 15-12 thanks to a 7-3 run that culminated in a kill by Ogoms, but never fully separated from the Bluejays who caught the Trojans at 22-all and then took a 23-22 lead on back-to-back kills by Winters. Bricio did her best to keep the Women of Troy in it, but Creighton sewed up the first set on its third set-point opportunity. Neither team hit particularly well due to 11 blocks in the first set (six for USC, five for Creighton). The Trojans produced a .113 hitting percentage (14k, 8e, 53att) and were outpaced by the Bluejays' .164 rate (16k, 7e, 55att).
There was no such drama in the second set. The Trojans led wire-to-wire and completed a 25-16 win to equalize the match at one set apiece. USC scored the first three points with two kills by Bricio and a service ace from Johnson. The Women of Troy went up by seven, 11-4, but the Bluejays exhibited patience as they worked their way within two points at 13-11. The Trojans had a response however as Bricio and Ogoms got back-to-back kills and then Ogoms and Abercrombie teamed up to block Bird and extend USC's lead to five at 16-11. The Trojans were relentless down the stretch and Ford had three straight kills to give USC a 23-15 lead, but it was a pair of Creighton errors that broke the camel's back in a 25-16 Trojan victory.
The Trojans produced a 9-3 run in the third set to close out a second consecutive 25-16 win for a 2-1 lead in the match. The teams took turns scoring points in bunches and USC created the first big gap at 7-3 as junior middle blocker Elise Ruddins followed a Whittingham ace with back-to-back kills. A 3-0 burst brought the Trojans a 10-6 lead and prompted a Creighton timeout, but USC created another 3-0 run to get up by six points at 16-10. Three straight points by the Bluejays closed the hole to three at 16-13 and got the Trojans to pause on a timeout. The teams traded barbs one point at a time until the Women of Troy stepped on the gas to score the final five points of the frame and seal the win.
The fourth began as a back-and-forth struggle, but Bricio scored back-to-back kills to jumpstart her nine-kill frame and got USC an 8-6 lead. The lead doubled to four points at 12-8 on a short 3-0 Trojan run as Bricio got the crosscourt kill and then teamed with Ogoms for a block followed by Johnson's third ace. USC added two more for a six-point lead at 15-9 on three straight Bricio points: two kills and another service ace. The Bluejays were able to trim the lead back to four as Winters took kills at 19-15 and 20-16, but Bricio had had enough and turned on the jets to give the Trojans match point at 24-17 with four kills in five rallies. The Bluejays saved one point before Ogoms went quick off a set from Johnson to put the final ball down in a 25-18 win.
Next up, the Women of Troy face the Jayhawks for the first time in program history. Kansas makes its historic first-ever appearance in the NCAA regional finals and adds to an already illustrious season. KU and USC were the final two undefeated teams in the country at 19-0 before the Jayhawks fell to Texas. USC went on to win 22 in a row before its first loss of the season. Both teams have suffered just two losses all year.
For more information on the NCAA tournament and a complete bracket, please visit NCAA.com. 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.