Seventh-ranked UCLA lost a four-set decision to No. 9 USC in an MPSF match played on Saturday night in Pauley Pavilion. Scores of the match were 20-25, 25-19, 17-25, 23-25. The Bruins are now 14-8 overall and 11-7 in MPSF play. The Trojans outhit the Bruins .311 to .254 for the match, won the serving battle six to four, and out dug UCLA 46-42.
In set one, the score was even at each point through eight. USC took the lead at 8-9 and never gave it back in posting a 20-25 win. The Trojans moved out to a six-point advantage at 11-17 only to see the Bruins close to within 17-20 on a Gonzalo Quiroga kill, but it was as close as they would come. USC hit .483 during the set.
UCLA jumped to a 10-6 lead in set two. USC rallied to within one at 17-16 and again at 18-17. A block by Jackson Bantle made it 19-17 and the Trojans never narrowed the margin. The Bruins captured the set 25-19, with the deciding point coming on a Quiroga ace. UCLA outhit the visitors .308 to .179 for the set.
The Bruins opened a 3-1 cushion in set three. The score was then even at points five through nine before USC owned the lead at 9-10 and did not lose it. A Quiroga kill made the score 15-17, but UCLA would not get closer the rest of the way and dropped the set 17-25. USC hit .407 for the set to UCLA’s .138 mark.
USC took a 1-3 edge to start set four. UCLA leveled the score at four. The Trojans grabbed a 5-6 difference and held on down the stretch. The Bruins rallied from being down 12-17 to 16-18 after an ace from Steve O’Dell. Kills by Quiroga made it 17-19 and then 18-20. After Spencer Rowe and Quiroga teamed up on block it was 20-21. The Bruins held off a couple of match points, but USC delivered the telling blow with a 23-25 win.
Quiroga was the UCLA kill leader with 15. He hit .200 on the night and added a couple of aces to go along with 11 digs. Bantle put a career-best 12 balls down, hit .320, and also totaled a season-high 11 digs. Rowe finished with six blocks and eight kills. Freshman Jake Reeves killed nine balls in 23 swings in his first action of the season. Hagen Smith recorded 29 set assists before moving to libero. O’Dell came in to post 12 set assists and a block.
UCLA is off next week for exams and will resume action on March 27 at Cal Baptist. The next home match is on Apr. 10, also against the Lancers.