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Oh So Close!: USC hangs on to beat Wildcats in a Volleyball Match down to 5 sets

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

In a midday matchup at the Mckale Center, we saw the USC Trojans travel down to face the Arizona Wildcats just two days after the Wildcats got their first conference win with a 3-1 win over the other Los Angeles School UCLA. The fans here had plenty of reason to be motivated, due to the previous night’s heartbreaking 3OT loss against the same school but in Football. The Cats who were 6-10 going into the match, still trying to find their groove in conference play, while USC were 10-5 and even had a 9-game winning streak until being snapped by ASU in their previous game. Either way, both teams have plenty of reason to be pumped up going into the game.

The first set started very evenly with no team able to find a sizable lead until USC went on a run to lead 14-9 causing Arizona to call a timeout. The Trojans continued their run increasing it up to 16-9, until Arizona started to claw back allowing only 2 points over the next 7 sets to make it 15-17, USC found their footing though and took back two points to make it 15-19 USC as Arizona called their second timeout. The Wildcats took back a quick two points, going out of the timeout, where it went even again until Arizona found themselves only behind by a point near the end of the set at 20-21, where a couple of points later, eventually tied it up at 22-22 where USC called timeout. Arizona then would take the lead 24-23 as USC called another timeout, getting the crowd very excited. However the Trojans weren’t going down without a fight to make it 24-24, before Jordan Wilson made an amazing spike to give the Cats the advantage, and on the following play the Cats ended it up, as an out of bounds USC volleyball would give the Wildcats the first set.

Starting out the Second Set, down a set USC took the lead early, keeping a consistent 1-2 point advantage over the Wildcats in the early part of the set. The Wildcats would tie it a couple of times, but could not find the advantage on those opportunities as USC would go on to take an advantage of 12-8 over the Cats midway through the set, and later increase their advantage to 15-10 as the Wildcats would call their first timeout of the set. The Trojans would continue to see themselves up 12-18 as Arizona called another timeout to regroup and get a breather. The Trojans though would never look back completing a 13-point run to end the set and make it 1-1 going into the third set. Score of Set 2: 12-25

Set number 3 started out with Arizona and USC constantly trading points, neither team not getting more than a point in front, until Arizona made it 8-6. USC would battle back though to tie it up at 9-9, The teams would continue to trade points though, before the advantage went to USC, as the Trojans took a 13-16 lead, before Arizona would call their first timeout of the set.USC would keep their three point advantage, increasing it to 4, and even 5 at 16-21 as Arizona would go on to use their second timeout of the set. Going into the final stretch of the set, the Wildcats tried to make a rally and took two points back to make it 19-22. The Cats would continue to fight, but these days efforts would fall short as USC went on to take the third set 25-20. Making it 1-2 in favor of USC

Going into the fourth set, The Cats were down, but the fans were still as excited as the first, and their excitement paid off as the Cats took an early 4-2 advantage. The Trojans though wouldn’t back down making points for Arizona long and drawn out, lots of blocking, and diving happening on the court. These efforts would pay off though as they would tie it up 5-5. The set would be similar to the third, trading points throughout. However Arizona would take a 12-9 lead causing the crowd in attendance to go on their feet in excitement. USC however would rally themselves back to tie it up again, before a USC challenge by Brad Keller stopped play. The Challenge failed however as Arizona got to keep the point. Jordan Wilson would continue the momentum for Arizona early with a kill early on, and Alayna Johnson following it up with a roof as USC would call a timeout to regroup. Arizona would continue this momentum after the timeout, keeping a consistent 3-point advantage. Arizona though, wouldn’t keep the big advantage for long, as USC took two points in rapid succession, and Arizona would take a timeout to get a breather. Arizona would quickly get back the 3-point advantage. A USC Ball out of bounds put the Wildcats within a point, and they would finish it up with a USC block going out of bounds to give Arizona the set, and to tie it up at 2-2

Going into the fifth and final set, Arizona would continue that momentum they had with a quick point, before an out of bounds ball on the following play gave USC the point and the ball. After a challenge by USC coach by Brad Keller gave a point to Arizona, the Cats would take a point advantage, before going back to trading points. USC would, however take a 3 point advantage after three consecutive spikes, and Arizona would take a timeout. Arizona would take a point back after the timeout, but would spike it out of bounds to fall behind once again in a three point deficit. USC would increase the advantage to four, but Arizona would take a quick two points back as they continued to give it their all in the final parts of the game. Arizona would call their final timeout at 9-13, and hope to be energized however USC would end the game with two consecutive points to end the game 9-15 and take the sets 3-2. It was an amazing effort against a great USC team, and it shows that Arizona’s record is no reflection on what potential they have. Arizona will be back on October 27th against the Stanford Cardinal for a white out at Mckale at 6:00 PM

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