Seventh-Ranked Bruins Block Their Way to Win Against #4 USC

Nov. 23, 2012

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LOS ANGELES - Seventh-ranked UCLA had 17.5 blocks, including a career-high 14 from sophomore Zoë Nightingale, and on Senior Night, seniors Rachael Kidder (18 kills), Tabi Love (16 kills) and Bojana Todorovic (18 digs) helped the Bruins to a four-set win over #4 USC on Friday at the New Pauley Pavilion. Set scores were 19-25, 25-23, 25-17, 25-19.

The Bruins finish the regular season with an overall record of 22-7 and a 14-6 mark in Pac-12 play, while the Trojans fall to 27-5 and 15-5 in league.

Kidder was just shy of a double-double with nine digs to go with four blocks. Junior Kelly Reeves was one dig shy of tying a career best with 18, while junior Meg Norton added 13 digs. Sophomore Megan Moenoa recorded 32 assists, six digs and four blocks, junior Mariana Aquino added six blocks and a .625 hitting percentage with only one error in eight attempts and sophomore Karsta Lowe posted five kills.

The Trojans opened the match with three in a row and held a 5-1 lead before the Bruins rallied with five straight to take their first advantage of the contest. A USC service error, back-to-back kills by Love, a Kidder ace and a combo block by Nightingale and freshman Becca Strehlow made it 6-5 home team. UCLA still led 7-6, but USC countered with five in a row to go back ahead 11-7.

The Trojans' lead would remain between two and six for the rest of the set. UCLA cut its deficit to a pair at 19-17, but USC scored six of the last eight to win it 25-19. Love had nine of the Bruins' 14 kills in the opening set, hitting .500 with only one error in 16 attempts, as UCLA was out-hit .345 to .100.

UCLA led early in set two 2-1, but a 6-0 USC run gave the visitors a 7-2 edge. The Bruins came back with a 6-2 run to trim their deficit to one at 9-8. Love had two kills during the run, Moenoa posted a kill and an ace, Kidder recorded a kill and USC committed a service error. With USC still on top 12-9, a 5-0 UCLA run put the home squad back up by two. A kill by Lowe, a Kidder/Nightingale combo block, a Nightingale kill and back-to-back combo blocks from the duo of Moenoa and Nightingale put the Bruins up 14-12.

With UCLA ahead 16-15, USC scored three straight to go back up 18-16. A kill by Aquino and a USC attack error evened things up at 18, and seven sideouts later with the Trojans up 22-21, a Kidder kill, a USC ball handling error and a Love/Nightingale combo block gave the Bruins two set points. The Trojans saved the first try, but a Love kill finished off a 25-23 victory. Kidder paced the Bruins with five kills, while Love added three. Reeves notched seven digs and Todorovic had five, as the Trojans still out-hit the Bruins .240 to .200.

USC scored the first three of set three, but a 4-0 UCLA run on a Lowe/Nightingale combo block, a Kidder kill and back-to-back combo roofs from Moenoa and Nightingale and Kidder and Nightingale made it 4-3. USC sided out to tie the score at four, but a 4-1 UCLA run on kills by Norton and Nightingale and combo roofs from Moenoa and Nightingale and Aquino and Love made it 8-5. The Bruins would lead for the rest of the set. Up 8-7, a 5-1 run on two kills from Aquino, a Love kill, a combo block by Aquino and Lowe and a Trojan attack error made it 13-8.

The Trojans would get to within a pair on a few occasions, but no closer. At 18-16, the Bruins scored seven of the last eight of the set to win the third 25-17. Kills by Reeves and Kidder, with a USC attack error in between, made it 21-16. After a USC sideout, a Kidder kill, a Lowe/Nightingale combo block and a Trojan attack error gave the Bruins a bunch of set points. UCLA's ninth block of the set, from Kidder and Nightingale, clinched a 25-17 victory. Kidder had four kills, Aquino posted three and Nightingale notched six blocks. Reeves and Todorovic each had six digs, as the Bruins out-hit the Trojans .303 to .000.

UCLA held an early 3-1 lead in the fourth, but a 5-1 USC run put the visitors up 6-4. The Bruins responded with five of the next six on two kills by Kidder, a Moenoa kill and two Trojan errors to go back up 9-7, but USC countered with a 6-2 run to re-take the lead at 13-11. A kill by Moenoa and two in a row for Love put the Bruins ahead 14-13, and despite ties at 14, 15 and 16-all, UCLA held on to its lead for the rest of the set.

A USC service error and three straight kills by Kidder made it 20-16. The Trojans scored the next two, but back-to-back USC errors and consecutive Nightingale solo blocks gave UCLA a bunch of match points. USC saved the first try, but an attack error on attempt number two finished a 25-19 victory for the Bruins. Kidder had seven kills in the fourth, while Love added three. Norton and Todorovic each recorded five digs, as the Bruins out-hit the Trojans .237 to .167.

The Bruins and 63 other teams await their postseason fate, as ESPNU airs the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday at 1 p.m.

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