UCLA women’s volleyball unable to secure victory against USC
Sophomore defensive specialist/libero Peyton Dueck celebrates after a point. Dueck hit the set-winning block in the third set. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)
By Amy Ionescu
Sept. 23, 2022 4:19 p.m.
Quiet filled Pauley Pavilion as the Bruins were down by two sets and on the verge of losing the third.
Then, over 7,000 people erupted.
Peyton Dueck had just secured the third set for the blue and gold in overtime.
“I think that was the best moment of my life,” said the sophomore defensive specialist/libero. “I’m obviously not a front row player, so that was really just super hype for me – it felt really good.”
Despite Dueck’s performance, UCLA women’s volleyball (6-4, 0-1 Pac-12) was unable to secure the win Thursday against USC (9-3, 1-0 Pac-12). The Trojans took the first set, never giving up their lead after pulling away 9-7.
The second set saw freshman outside hitter/opposite Grayce Olson hit a kill on a floating serve return, bringing the score to 13-9.
“At the end of the day our goal is just to put high hands up on the block,” Olson said. “And I think we did a pretty good job doing that and our defense did really well. Also, we just need to probably lower our hitting errors.”
Olson averaged a .381 clip throughout the match, but her two kills in the second set weren’t enough to secure a Bruin victory. USC out-hit UCLA .286 to .029 in the second frame before ultimately clinching the set 25-21.
Nevertheless, the Bruins never gave up.
“The fight is good,” said coach Michael Sealy. “You got to start with the fight as the foundation, we can fine-tune from there, so we’re really happy with the overall engagement with everyone on the court and off the court.”
The third set featured a cat-and-mouse game, with the Bruins chasing the Trojans throughout a majority of the set. Trailing by one point as the game went into overtime, a challenge on match point brought the blue and gold back from the dead to tie the set at 24-24.
After UCLA saved a series of match points, Dueck was able to secure the Bruin victory in the third set with a block – her first and only of the season.
“We’ve been focusing a lot on momentum,” Dueck said. “When we got that challenge ball, and it tied us up, and I went in to serve, I think we all just really dialed in in that moment. Just took the opportunity we had and pushed through it.”
And despite starting off the fourth set in a 5-0 deficit, the blue and gold continued to rally. The first UCLA point that set went into the stands after a kill from graduate student middle blocker Lauren Forte ricocheted off the arms of a Trojan to make the score 5-1.
Forte followed up her performance with a touch then kill combination to bring the score to 10-7 later in the frame. Redshirt junior middle blocker Anna Dodson followed suit with a touch of her own to once again reduce the Bruin deficit to three at 18-15, before hitting a kill into an open corner of the court four points later to put the Bruins within three points once more.
But the Trojan’s offensive prowess ultimately prevailed.
“We don’t have the high ball hitters that they do,” said Sealy. “We’re not as physical on the pins, so we gotta make sure we’re in system more often.”
While the Bruins failed to clinch the win, Thursday broke the attendance record for a home UCLA women’s volleyball game with 7,216 fans gracing the stands.
UCLA next plays at Pauley Pavilion on Sunday against No. 18 Washington.