USC’s women’s volleyball squad split its two Pac-12 matches this weekend at Galen Center, defeating No. 8 Washington 3-1 Friday before falling to No. 24 Washington State 3-2 Sunday afternoon.
The Trojans were able to hand Washington its second conference defeat of the year. The Huskies came into the match at 10-2, so it felt like a must-win for a USC team that had been slipping down the polls this season.
USC came out strong in the first set, killing the ball 17 times in the frame, and was lifted by a key performance from junior outside hitter Brooke Botkin, who recorded a season-high 19 kills in the match, including six in the first set.
Senior libero Raegan LeGrand, who made her first collegiate start against Washington in 2018, was also dominant during the match after getting the nod at the libero position earlier in the week.
“Raegan LeGrand was fantastic at libero,” head coach Brent Crouch said. “She was just really, really good; it was exciting to see her perform.”
Although the defense has been inconsistent for the Trojans this year, USC was able to hold Washington to hitting just .100 for the whole match Friday en route to the win. Crouch said the team’s defense was its best attribute on the night.
“We were touching a lot of stuff and scrapping on the ground and digging,” Crouch said. “You hold a team to .100, you have a good chance to win.”
Washington’s 30 errors committed throughout the match proved to be costly for them but beneficial for the Trojans. With the third set tied at 19, USC went on a 6-0 run that included two attacking errors by the Huskies.
The fourth set started rocky for the Trojans, who opened up with four errors to dig themselves in a 2-7 hole, but a timeout from Crouch helped spark a 6-3 run. In a similar situation last week against Arizona, USC came out of a timeout in the third set and rallied to secure a 3-1 victory.
After battling back into striking position, Botkin put the match away, winning the last 2 points for USC.
The loss to Washington State was the first home contest of the season for the Trojans. USC climbed out of a 2-0 deficit to take the match to five sets but came up a few points short of the comeback.
Despite the loss, LeGrand shined yet again for a USC team that still seems to be looking for a replacement for former libero Victoria Garrick. LeGrand had 25 digs on the day while committing no defensive errors.
Statistically, the match against the Cougars was very even. USC hit .241 while the Cougars hit .249, and both teams had six aces each. Senior outside hitter Khalia Lanier’s performance was especially noteworthy, as the senior had season highs of 25.5 points, 23 kills and 59 attacks.
USC will have another chance to face the Cougars Nov. 3. but will head to the Rocky Mountains to play against Colorado as the Trojans start a four-game road trip. They return to Galen Center Oct. 25 to take on Cal.