After sweeping Oregon State (25-20, 25-18, 25-21) on Thursday, the women’s volleyball team found itself on the other end on Sunday, suffering its first home loss at the hands of No. 20 Oregon (26-24, 25-22, 25-20) at Galen Center.
The Trojans fall to 4-2 in conference play.
Head coach Brent Crouch said after Sunday’s game that the players’ execution needed improvement.
“There weren’t a lot of bright points between [Sunday] and Thursday’s games,” Crouch said. “Our hitting numbers were spectacular against [Oregon State]. [Sunday] was a different story. We did not execute well — we doubled their hitting errors, doubled their serving errors. That’s the game, that’s the match.”
Before this weekend, Crouch was looking to improve their serving, but it was not smooth sailing in either game. The Trojans were still able to shut out the Beavers on Thursday night, but they struggled with serving consistently throughout the three sets as they finished with 10 service errors and five aces. Oregon State also struggled with serving, finishing with seven service errors and one ace.
Freshman setter Raquel Lázaro was a bright spot on Thursday, finishing with 35 assists and clinching her eighth double-double of the season with 10 digs. In conference play, Lázaro is averaging 11.11 assists per set and has helped anchor USC’s offense throughout the season.
“In terms of setting, she’s been incredibly consistent,” Crouch said. “It’s really pulled us out of some tight spots in the past.”
On Sunday, Lázaro provided the same consistency, but even with her skill and the intense hollering from fans, the team was unsuccessful in rattling Oregon’s offense. Despite keeping the score close throughout the match, the Trojans had recurring difficulties with their service game, also recording 10 service errors. They had trouble blocking the Ducks’ outside hitters, who seemed to punish USC’s weak passing at every opportunity. These mishaps forced two early USC timeouts in the first quarter. With two illegal back row hits also hindering the Trojans, the Ducks used their momentum to end the matchup in three sets.
Crouch was uncharacteristically brief after Sunday’s match, offering a terse comment.
“Not sure why we didn’t execute today, but we didn’t,” he said.
Despite enduring their first loss at Galen Center this season, the Women of Troy were still able stay relatively sharp individually. Senior libero Reni Meyer-Whalley led the Trojans in digs during both the first and second frames, garnering a total of 11 for the match. Senior libero Victoria Garrick was also a major defensive asset, leading all players with 19 kills in the match-deciding set.
With two more home games next weekend after a road-heavy schedule so far, the team will rest before returning to Galen Center Friday against Arizona State.
“Hopefully, this [loss] lights a fire under us,” Crouch said. “I thought we could have beaten Oregon in three if we just didn’t have all those errors. This will definitely help create the focus we want in practice this week … It’s only going to get tougher as the Pac-12 goes on.”