The Bruins could not pull off the comeback.
UCLA women’s volleyball (13-14, 8-12 Pac-12) fell at home against rival No. 15 USC (21-10, 13-7) in its final game of the season. The Bruins finished the year with a losing record for the first time in program history, having lost 9 of their last 11 matches.
With the loss, UCLA is out of the picture for postseason play, as teams with a record under .500 are automatically ineligible to play in the NCAA tournament.
“It’s definitely a bummer,” said senior libero Zana Muno. “Nobody wants to not make playoffs in their last year, but it is what it is.”
Redshirt freshman middle blocker Emily Ryan gave the Bruins the early 3-1 lead in the first set with two consecutive aces. The teams would go back and forth from there, neither taking more than a three-point advantage until a six-point run by UCLA gave it a 19-15 lead.
But the Trojans would go on their own run at 22-16, scoring nine of the last 10 points to win the first set 25-23. The Bruins were outhit .389 to .114 and had just nine kills to the Trojans’ 18.
There were 13 ties and seven lead changes in the second set, with the largest lead by either team being just two points until UCLA went ahead 17-14. But again the Trojans would claw back, scoring five in a row to take the lead 20-19 and eventually took the second set 25-22.
USC had the lead at 20-18 late in the third set. But the Bruins took advantage of two more aces by Ryan and two Trojan service errors to take the set 25-22 and avoid being swept again by USC.
“We were just fired up,” said senior middle blocker Kyra Rogers. “We just came together and it was going our way.”
Tied at 7-7 in the fourth set, the Bruins scored eight of the next 10 points to take a six-point lead at 25-9. From there, UCLA never let the lead dip below four points en route to a 25-16 set win to force the decisive fifth set. The Trojans were outhit .323 to .025 in the set.
While UCLA was able to keep it close up to 4-4 in the final set, USC pulled away and won the set 15-9 to take the match.
“We felt like we won four sets today,” said coach Michael Sealy. “We were pushing them in the first two sets, and in three and four we were in control and playing great. It just slipped away from us at the end.”
Sophomore outside hitter Mac May led the Bruins with 16 kills, followed by junior middle blocker Madeleine Gates, who had 13 kills. Ryan finished the match with 10 kills and six blocks to go with her four service aces.
It was Senior Day for the Bruins, who will be graduating two seniors – Muno and Rogers. Rogers recorded two kills, five digs, and three blocks in her last game as a Bruin. Muno recorded her second-highest dig total this season with 35, surpassing the 1,600 mark for digs in her career.