Nov. 25, 2011
LOS ANGELES - Junior Rachael Kidder paced the Bruins with 18 kills, while freshman Karsta Lowe posted a career-high 12, but the fourth-ranked Bruins lost in four sets to #1 USC on Senior Night at the John Wooden Center on Friday. Set scores were 26-24, 24-26, 21-25, 20-25.
The Bruins finish the regular season with a 24-6 record and a 17-5 mark in the Pac-12 Conference, good for second place in the league. The Pac-12 champion Trojans go into the NCAA Tournament with a 25-4 overall record and a 20-2 mark in league play. Both teams, and 62 others, will find out where their postseason journeys begin on Sunday when ESPNU airs the NCAA Selection Show at 3 p.m.
All five UCLA seniors saw action in their final regular-season home matches in Westwood. Sara Sage recorded nine kills and only one error in 17 attempts for a .471 hitting percentage, adding six blocks, which tied a career high. Lainey Gera notched 14 digs, Katie Camp tallied five kills and five blocks and Lauren Van Orden had 29 assists and seven digs. Nikki Casale also got into the match in the third and fourth sets, posting an impressive serving run at the end of the third and finishing with three digs. Kidder added five digs and four blocks, sophomore Kelly Reeves posted 12 digs, five kills and three blocks and freshman Megan Moenoa produced 20 assists and seven digs. The Bruins hit just .136 for the match.
The Bruins used a late surge to steal the first set. The Trojans jumped out to an early 11-6 lead, and then extended it to a set-best eight thanks to a 7-4 run to take an 18-10 advantage. From there, the Bruins began to claw away at their deficit, scoring the next four on a kill by Sage, two bad sets by USC and another kill by Kidder to make it 18-14. The Trojans still led by six at 22-16, but another 4-0 run cut the Bruins' deficit to a pair. Back-to-back kills by Reeves and Lowe began the run, which was followed by consecutive USC attack errors to make it 22-20.
After a Trojan sideout, UCLA tallied a third 4-0 run to take its first lead of the set since scoring the initial point of the match. A pair of USC attack errors and back-to-back kills by junior Tabi Love and Kidder gave the Bruins an improbable set point. USC saved the first attempt on a sideout, but back-to-back attack errors gave the home squad a 26-24 victory. Lowe had five kills and no errors in 10 swings in the first set, while Kidder added four kills. The Bruins out-hit the Trojans .196 to .116.
The Bruins' largest lead of the second set was two points at 4-2 and 5-3, but the Trojans responded with the next four to take a 7-5 edge and never trailed for the rest of the set, although UCLA made things interesting at the end. USC's biggest advantage of the set was five at 17-12 and 18-13. Still trailing by four at 22-18, the Bruins scored three straight on a Trojan service error, a Love/Sage combo block and a USC attack error to get to within one at 22-21.
The Trojans got two of the next three to make it 24-22 to earn a pair of set points, but kills by Kidder and Camp evened the score at 24. However, USC netted the next two points and held on for a 26-24 victory. Kidder had eight of the Bruins' 15 kills in the second set. Gera added six digs, as the Bruins were out-hit .341 to .263.
USC used nine blocks in the third set to take a 2-1 lead in the match. After surrendering the first point of the set, the Trojans scored the next three and then immediately jumped out to leads of 8-4 and 14-7. USC's biggest lead of the set was 10 at 18-8. Down 23-15, the Bruins scored four straight points, three of which came on Casale's serve. Sage and Lowe had kills during the 4-0 run and USC committed a pair of attack errors. But the Trojans were able to hold on to win the third 25-21. Kidder had four kills in the third, as the Bruins were out-hit .036 to -.086.
The fourth set featured nine ties and three lead changes, but the Trojans pulled away late to finish off the win. Trailing 4-3, the Bruins scored three straight on two kills by Sage and a combo block from Sage and Kidder to go up 6-4. USC tied it at six, but a 4-1 UCLA run on kills by Sage and junior Bojana Todorovic, a Camp/Kidder combo block and a Trojan attack error put the home team up by a set-best three at 10-7.
But it was all Trojans after that, as they scored seven of the next eight to take a 14-11 advantage. The Bruins would tie it again at 15- and 17-all, but the Trojans slowly pulled away and went on to win the set 25-20 to take the match in four sets. Sage led the Bruins with five kills in as many attempts in the fourth, while Lowe added three. The Bruins were out-hit .312 to .143.