The UCLA women’s volleyball team came into the Galen Center Wednesday night rolling, having won seven games in a row en route to regaining its No. 1 ranking.
UCLA (9-2, 1-1 Pac-12) left, though, having being rolled by No. 2 USC (13-1, 1-1 Pac-12), three sets to one, in its first game of conference play.
Senior outside hitter Tabi Love gave no excuses for her team’s shortcomings in the season’s most important match to date.
“I think we were just outplayed (Wednesday),” Love said. “We showed up and we didn’t follow and execute our game plan as well as we would’ve liked to. They just showed up and played better volleyball than us.”
That “better volleyball” was evident from the get-go as the Women of Troy jumped out to a 2-0 set lead.
Looking lifeless compared to their crosstown rivals, the Bruins were in desperate need of a spark. The ensuing intermission provided just that, and the team rallied to take the third set.
However, the rally was short-lived, as USC turned an 8-8 fourth set tie into a 25-17 set win.
While disappointed, Love said she thinks the veteran-laden Bruin roster can learn from the loss.
“I think we learned that we have to start fast and we really just have to play our game and follow all of our assignments,” Love said.
Those assignment mishaps seemed to be primarily on defense, which has become an area of inconsistency for the team. Senior outside hitter Rachael Kidder wasn’t shy in addressing her team’s defensive struggles.
“Our defense is not very good,” Kidder said. “We don’t make a lot of plays that we should be making. There are easier balls that we should be getting up that we’re not. I think just following our assignments and building that trust within our team (will help us improve).”
Freshman setter Becca Strehlow started the Wednesday game for UCLA in the team’s two-setter system. She distributed the ball more evenly than in past games, but the lack of timing was just another one of the Bruins’ woes.
“Our ball control was a little off last night,” said junior outside hitter Kelly Reeves.
“Our hitters weren’t in sync with our setters. That will come. We just have to be patient and keep working with our setters to keep building better trust.”
On Friday night, the Bruins turned the page on the loss, and easily swept Oregon State (10-4, 0-2). Kidder had a team-high 14 kills, and Love added 12 kills. The defense rebounded with eight blocks.
UCLA will travel to Seattle next Wednesday to play Washington, confident that the team will bounce back from its disappointing loss to USC.
“As of right now, they’re just a better team but I think that we will be better in the long run,” Kidder said.