For about 20 minutes, and a few other brief moments, the top-ranked UCLA women’s volleyball team had as tough a workout as it has had all season, being forced into mistakes by USC’s dominating play at the net.
But when the match was over, No. 13 USC was still struggling for consistency and UCLA remained the only undefeated team in the country with a 15-9, 15-3, 12-15, 15-3 victory Wednesday night before a crowd of 2,133 at Pauley Pavilion.
“I thought we were mentally prepared,” said USC Coach Chuck Erbe, whose team dropped to 17-10 overall and 9-5 in the Pacific 10 Conference. “But we have no alibis. We executed our game plan flawlessly in the third game, but then they (UCLA) got their respect back and that was it. We did not come here to play those first two games.”
USC gave UCLA (24-0, 14-0) a run in the first game, before the Bruins pulled away and scored 7 straight points to take a 13-5 lead and the eventual win.
So when UCLA dominated the second game, it appeared as though USC would be the 16th team the Bruins have defeated in 3 straight games.
Behind the leadership of setter Yleana Carrasco, the Trojans surprised the Bruins in the third game with an aggressive attack. Carrasco and Jamie Hatchett made key blocks to keep the game close and force UCLA into errors. The Trojans pulled away from a 11-11 tie to take the lead and win the game.
“I felt confident in that last game that our team would come back,” said UCLA’s Samantha Shaver, who led the team with 17 kills and 15 digs.
“We lost the third game because we didn’t play our game. But we were psyched up to play SC, and we weren’t going to let it get away.”
UCLA’s 24 victories tied a school record for the most consecutive wins in a season. The Bruins can set the record with a victory over Washington at Seattle Friday.