When UCLA women’s volleyball last played USC, the Bruins were ranked 11th and the Trojans 21st.
Two months later, the teams have nearly switched places.
No. 19 UCLA (17-10, 10-8 Pac-12) will face Oregon State (21-9, 11-7) on Wednesday before playing No. 13 USC (21-8, 13-5) on Saturday.
USC heads into the match having won six of its last seven matches. Outside hitter Khalia Lanier leads the Trojans, ranking sixth for kills per set and seventh for aces per set in the conference.
No. 4 Stanford (24-3, 17-1) swept USC and snapped the Trojans’ five-match winning streak Nov. 15. The Trojans were held to a season-low hitting percentage of .023 while the Cardinal hit .461 in the match.
Coach Michael Sealy said that the key to winning against USC is aggressive serving.
“When (the Trojans) are in system, they are a really, really good team,” Sealy said. “The teams that have had success against SC served really tough, made sure they weren’t running their fast offense, that’s the best opportunity.”
Senior outside hitter Reily Buechler said that she hopes the team brings the intensity and competitive fire they had in last week’s five-set loss to Stanford into this week’s games.
“We haven’t been playing that well the entire season but we’ve been able to prove ourselves against Stanford even though we lost,” Buechler said. “I think that we sometimes play too loose, but against Stanford we had the competitiveness.”
UCLA has yet to play Oregon State this season, but has emerged victorious in its past 18 encounters.
However, the Beavers have won their recent five games, including a five-set victory against then-No. 10 Washington (22-7, 10-6). Oregon State finished a season-sweep of the Washington schools for the first time since 1984.
“They are going to be a well-rounded, very good team,” Sealy said. “They’re ahead of us in the standings, they have a lot of wins in conference.”
Oregon State’s outside hitter Mary-Kate Marshall is third in kills per set and in aces per set in the Pac-12.
“She’s smart, they love setting her on everything,” Buechler said. “She gets really excited, she gets really into it … It’s always fun playing her.”
Despite the Beavers’ recent win record, freshman outside hitter Jenny Mosser said she is confident going into the game.
“If we can just play like we did against Stanford … If we play like we can, I know we can beat them,” Mosser said.