LOS ANGELES - Junior Karsta Lowe had 15 kills and freshman Claire Felix added career highs in kills (12), hitting percentage (.500), digs (7) and blocks (3), but the 11th-ranked Bruins fell in their Pac-12 opener on Wednesday at #4 USC in four sets. Set scores were 23-25, 22-25, 25-21, 16-25.
The Bruins fall to 9-2 overall, while the Trojans improve to 11-1.
Junior Zoë Nightingale recorded nine kills, senior Kelly Reeves posted eight kills and 14 digs and sophomore Maddy Klineman had six kills. Freshman Jordan Robbins (23 assists, four digs) and junior Monica Stauber (22 assists, six digs) handled the setting duties, helping the Bruins to a .263 percentage. Sophomore Karly Drolson added eight digs, redshirt freshman Haley Lawless had six digs and senior Mariana Aquino tallied five blocks.
The first set featured 16 ties and five lead changes, with neither team leading by more than two points. With the Bruins down 6-4, they scored five of the next seven to go ahead 9-8. Aquino, Reeves, Klineman and Nightingale each had kills, while USC committed an attack error to put the visitors up by one. USC re-took the lead with the next two, but UCLA came back with a pair to go ahead again 11-10. Even at 12, the Bruins received a Trojan service error and a kill by Felix to take their set-best lead of two.
USC responded with four of the next five to take a 16-15 edge, and while the score would be tied five more times, the Bruins were unable to re-take the advantage. Never leading by more than a pair, USC took the opener 25-23. Lowe led the Bruins with five kills, Klineman added four, Reeves had three kills and six digs and Felix and Nightingale posted three kills apiece. The Trojans out-hit the Bruins .424 to .378.
UCLA held early three-point leads of 4-1 and 6-3 to start the second set, which featured 10 more ties and three lead changes. Two Lowe kills, a Nightingale kill and a USC attack error put the Bruins on top 4-1. After the Trojans scored the next two, the Bruins tallied the next pair on a USC service error and an Aquino/Felix combo block to go up 6-3. The Trojans rallied with a 7-3 run to take their first advantage of the set at 10-9. The Trojans held a two-point edge at 15-13, but consecutive kills from Lowe, Klineman and Felix put the Bruins back on top 16-15.
Three in a row for USC put the home team back up 18-16, and while UCLA tied things again at 18, 20 and 21-all, the visitors could not get back in front. The Trojans scored the next three to earn a trio of set points and connected on the second of those to take the stanza 25-22. Lowe again led the Bruins in kills with four, while Felix added three, as the Bruins were out-hit .289 to .258.
The score was tied nine times through the first 18 points of set three when USC went on a 4-0 run to take a set-best lead of four at 13-9. Trailing 15-11, the Bruins closed out the third set with a 14-6 run to take it 25-21. Down 17-14, kills by Reeves and Felix got the Bruins to within one, and after a USC sideout, a Reeves kill, a Trojan attack error and a Nightingale kill put the visitors up 19-18.
A USC sideout tied things at 19, but kills by Reeves and Lowe and a Trojan attack error put the Bruins ahead 22-19. A Lowe kill made it 24-21 to give UCLA three set points and a Lawless kill closed out a four-point win. Lowe and Reeves each had four kills to lead UCLA, while Felix and Nightingale added three apiece. Aquino was a part of all four blocks in the third, Lawless added five digs and the Bruins out-hit the Trojans .429 to .174.
Set four was tied through the first 12 points when the Trojans scored three straight to go ahead 9-6. A 3-0 UCLA run on a Lowe kill, a USC attack error and a Reeves ace tied it up again at nine, but the Trojans responded with a 9-1 run to open up an 18-10 lead. USC’s largest lead of the set was 10 at 24-14, as the home team won the fourth 25-16. Felix paced the Bruins with three kills in the fourth
The Bruins conclude their season-opening, 12-match road trip on Friday at Colorado at 6 p.m. PT. The contest will be broadcast live on Pac-12 Networks and live stats will also be available at UCLABruins.com.