USC’s Galen Center crowd was the largest UCLA women’s volleyball has seen in conference play this season.
“I played the USC fight song in practice all day today to get ready for the band, so it was kinda numb (during the match),” said coach Michael Sealy.
The visiting No. 19 Bruins women’s volleyball (19-10, 12-8 Pac-12) concluded their regular season Saturday by sweeping the No. 13 Trojans (22-9, 14-6) by scores of 25-18, 28-26 and 26-24 despite a 27-kill performance by USC outside hitter Khalia Lanier, who hit .346 on the match.
Lanier’s 27 kills mark the second-most kills in a three-set match by any player in the country this season.
“There are just certain nights where there’s nothing you can do to stop her. You just can’t get frustrated by it,” Sealy said. “She’s going to get her kills, she’s going to be unbelievable. But if you can stop the other five … you just have to ride that wave.”
The Bruins forced 25 attack errors from the Trojans and held them to a .167 hitting percentage. No one on USC other than Lanier had more than six kills, and the three players that more than four kills had a .000 hitting percentage.
“We couldn’t get anybody else in the match because we had to give (Lanier) all the balls,” said USC coach Mick Haley.
USC also struggled with serving at critical points in the match. In the second set, the Trojans committed service errors with the game tied at 25 and 26, with yet another in the third set to give the Bruins match point. The Trojans had nine service errors on the night compared to the Bruins’ two.
“That was an abnormally bad service night for them,” Sealy said. “They missed too many serves in really crucial situations. In bad rotations for us – rotations that we traditionally struggle siding out in – they let us off the hook.”
UCLA had nine fewer attack errors than USC and hit .211 as a team. Freshman outside hitter Jenny Mosser, sophomore middle blocker Madeleine Gates and senior outside hitter Reily Buechler each posted double-digit kills.
Senior setter Sarah Sponcil posted a double-double after just the second set and finished with 34 assists and 15 digs. The senior was unfazed by a loud away crowd in her last Pac-12 match in her career.
“I said early on there was zero chance we were gonna be a great team when the season started,” Sealy said. “But it’s a great group of girls that work together … so you knew we would be able to grow as the season went on. After we lost to USC, it’s like don’t worry about it, because by the time the season is done, we actually can grow exponentially.”
The Bruins secured the No. 15 seed for the NCAA tournament and will host the first two rounds Friday and Saturday. UCLA will open postseason play against Austin Peay.