USC Ends Season on Heartbreaking Loss to Kansas|
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Dec. 13, 2015
SAN DIEGO -- The No. 1-seeded USC women's volleyball team (33-3) ended its season on a gut-wrenching five-set loss to ninth-seeded Kansas (30-2), 25-18, 25-21, 22-25, 19-25, 15-13, in the San Diego Regional championship match of the 2015 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship at Jenny Craig Pavilion on Saturday, Dec. 12. The Trojans fought back from a 2-0 deficit to force the fifth frame and led, 13-9, but the Jayhawks caught fire to score the final six points and secure the final bid into the national semifinals where they will face Nebraska.
Senior outside hitter Samantha Bricio started slow but finished with 25 kills (11e, 76att, .184) and 12 digs for her 18th double-double this season; the 58th and final double-double of her illustrious career. Sophomore opposite hitter Brittany Abercrombie had 10 kills (0e, 31att) and hit .323 to go with 11 digs for her first-career double-double. Abercrombie also scored on a service ace and had two blocks for 12 points.
Freshman outside hitter Alyse Ford earned 10 kills (4e, 24att, .250). In the middle, senior Alicia Ogoms scored eight kills (5e, 20att, .150) and had five blocks to become USC's single-season blocks record holder with 183. Junior Elise Ruddins collected six kills (2e, 11att, .364) and had five digs and four blocks.
Five Trojans reached double-digit digs led by freshman Victoria Garrick who put up 23 balls. Junior libero Taylor Whittingham had 19 digs and scored three points with two aces and a kill. Freshman setter Baylee Johnson had her 19th double-double of the year with a career-high 45 assists to go with 15 digs and six blocks (one solo). Bricio, Ogoms, and Johnson were each named to the NCAA San Diego Regional All-Tournament Team.
For the Jayhawks, Kelsie Payne led the way with 18 kills (7e, 69att, .159) and four blocks. Tayler Soucie (0e, 24att, .417), Madison Rigdon (7e, 42att, .071), and Janae Hall (3e, 21att, .333) each contributed 10 kills. Cassie Wait led all players with 28 digs and served two of Kansas' seven aces. Ainise Havili was chosen as the regional championship's most valuable player and finished the night with 48 assists, 22 digs, two blocks, and four kills (0e, 7att, .571).
USC led several times in the first set, but Kansas went ahead for good at 15-14 and finished up a 25-18 win on a service ace by Anna Church who had three in the match. The Trojans again led early in the second frame and went ahead by as many as four points at 11-7 before the Jayhawks caught them at 12-all. Kansas took its last lead at 14-13 on a kill by Payne and rolled out to four-point lead of its own at 21-17. Payne put the final ball down in a 25-21 win that gave the Jayhawks a 2-0 lead in the match; only the second time all season that USC had dropped the first two sets of a match.
Out of the break, the Women of Troy were a different team and used a 9-1 run to lead Kansas, 12-3, on back-to-back kills by Ruddins. The Jayhawks stayed patient and pulled even with USC at 19-all, but the Trojans turned on the offense to score a 3-1 run to close out a 25-22 win on a crosscourt kill by Abercrombie. USC had all the momentum going into the fourth and used it to create a six-point advantage at 11-5 on a block by Bricio and Ruddins. The Jayhawks answered with a 7-2 run and pulled within three at 18-5, but the Trojans got a pair of aces from Ruddins and Bricio went off-speed for the kill and a 24-17 lead at set point. The Jayhawks saved a pair, but Bricio tooled the block for the final point of a 25-19 USC victory. The Trojans hit .481 in the fourth and had 14 kills on 27 swings with only one error.
USC seized control of the fifth set and went up, 5-1, but Payne knocked down back-to-back kills and the Jayhawks got a block to pull within a point at 5-4. Bricio, Ogoms, Abercrombie, and Ford each collected kills en route to a giving USC an 11-8 lead, but it was a block by Ogoms and Johnson that put the Trojans up by four, 13-9. From there, it was all Kansas as the Jayhawks completed an unthinkable 6-0 run to close the books on USC's season with a 15-13 win in the fifth.
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.