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With loss to crosstown rival USC, women’s volleyball drops to 2nd in Pac-12

Graduate student outside hitter/opposite Mac May attempts to slot the ball in between two USC blockers Nov. 26. May finished with 21 kills for the match and became the fourth UCLA women’s volleyball player to reach 2,000 kills in a career. (Bryan Palmero/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Women's Volleyball


California0
No. 13 UCLA3
No. 13 UCLA2
USC3

By Bryan Palmero

Nov. 27, 2021 6:20 p.m.

This post was updated Nov. 29 at 12:48 a.m.

It was a tale of two matches for the Bruins.

No. 13 UCLA women’s volleyball (23-5, 16-4 Pac-12) swept California (7-23, 0-19) in its last home regular-season match at Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday but dropped a five-set contest to USC (15-15, 10-10) at the Galen Center on Friday. With the defeat, the Bruins lost possession of first place in the conference standings, and barring a Washington loss Saturday, have missed out on an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament in December.

On Wednesday, UCLA rushed out with four unanswered points to open the match and held the advantage throughout the set. However, two 3-0 Cal runs closed the margin down to one point as late as 16-15.

With the Golden Bears knocking on their door, the Bruins strung together a 9-2 run from that point onward to close out the opening frame 25-17. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Anna Dodson spiked four kills in that stretch, including the set-winning swing off an out-of-system play that had senior outside hitter/opposite élan McCall pick up the assist.

The second frame started like the first, with six straight UCLA points, a stretch that tied for the Bruins’ longest run of the match.

The Bruins reached set point first after seeing their lead dwindle to 14-12, but it would take another spell of three straight Golden Bear scores before UCLA could put the period away 25-21. The home team secured the final frame 25-20 to complete the sweep.

UCLA kicked off its Friday match at USC with a 25-22 first-set win. The Trojans were in front at the beginning 3-1, but a four-point Bruin run after that put UCLA in the lead for good. USC tied the match at one game apiece after retaking the second frame 25-16, but UCLA countered back 25-21 in the third set.

Entering the fourth period, the Bruins led the match with a .216 hitting percentage but eventually finished second at .184 compared to the Trojan’s .194. The first extra set also featured eight ties, but USC pulled away with a 25-20 win.

In the deciding set, UCLA took its first lead since the middle of the match with three straight points to start.

USC responded to its crosstown rival’s scoring by tying the set with three straight points of its own. The Trojans closed out the final set on an 8-3 run, punctuated by a block assist from opposite hitter Emilia Weske and middle blocker Sabrina Smith.

Despite the loss, May finished with a game-high 21 kills to give her the title of the fourth Bruin to ever accumulate at least 2,000 career kills.

Both matches marked the respective Senior Day celebrations for each team, with UCLA celebrating its eight graduating seniors Wednesday and USC honoring its players Friday evening. McCall was not included in Wednesday’s festivities after she opted to utilize her extra year of eligibility next season as a graduate student.

With the NCAA tournament approaching, UCLA’s loss dropped it to second place in the Pac-12 behind Washington. If the Huskies prevail in their season finale against the Cougars on Saturday, they would secure the automatic playoff bid for winning the conference. A loss, however, would catapult the Bruins back to first place.

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Bryan Palmero | Assistant Sports editor
Palmero is currently an assistant Sports editor on the softball, beach volleyball, women's volleyball, men's volleyball and men's golf beats. He was previously a contributor on the beach volleyball and women's volleyball beats.
Palmero is currently an assistant Sports editor on the softball, beach volleyball, women's volleyball, men's volleyball and men's golf beats. He was previously a contributor on the beach volleyball and women's volleyball beats.
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