No. 16 Utah Utes Down USC Trojans In Four Sets
SALT LAKE CITY – The No. 16 Utah Utes posted a four-set victory (25-18, 20-25, 29-27, 25-23) over the USC Trojans on Sunday afternoon at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. Utah improved to 16-7 on the season and is now 9-5 in Pac-12 play after double-digit kill efforts from three Utes guided the way.
Utah came out of the gates on fire and scored seven unanswered points to take a commanding 12-4 lead in the first set. Although the Trojans cut the lead to just 15-11 later on, Utah responded and used a 3-0 run to jump back out in front 18-11. Hot-hitting around the lineup jolted Utah to its first set point at 24-13, and finally after a late USC push, Dani Drews wrapped up the set with her seventh kill of the frame.
The Utes hit .514 as a team with Drews hitting .538, while Amelia Van Der Werff and Zoe Weatherington each added three kills on three swings. Utah did not record a single hitting error in the first set and posted 22 digs, which was highlighted by Vanessa Ramirez totaling nine of those digs.
The script was flipped in the second set as USC went on to hit .517 and Utah hit .194. The Utes fell into a hole after the Trojans went on a 6-1 run, leading 13-6 early on. Another large run for USC left Utah unable to make its way back into the set despite gathering a string of points late in the frame, ultimately dropping the second set 25-20. Weatherington continued her strong start to the match for Utah, totaling six kills at a .444 hitting percentage.
Utah began the third set by taking a 15-9 lead and the game of runs continued as USC scored four of the next five points to cut the lead to just 16-13 for the Utes. Leading 22-18, Utah allowed a 5-0 run from USC to force a timeout as the Utes found themselves trailing. Drews earned a key sideout, but a service error gave the Trojans set point. It was Drews again as the answer for Utah and Van Der Werff recorded a solo block the next play to gain set point – this time for Utah.
Neither team managed to convert a pair of points consecutively as the Utes and Trojans traded the next five points. With the set tied 27-27, Madelyn Robinson collected her third kill of the set for Utah's fourth set point, and a big block from Robinson and Phoebe Grace ended the frame 29-27 and handed Utah the 2-1 match lead.
The fourth set was tightly contested despite Utah finding itself sitting at a 15-11 lead at the midway point. The Utes played from ahead, but the Trojans were slowly closing in on the gap, cutting the lead to just 17-16. Utah led by just a couple of points until a big kill from Weatherington gave some breathing room for Utah at 22-19. USC responded and went on a 3-0 run to tie the set. Weatherington and Van Der Werff teamed up for a timely block to take the lead 23-22, but it was USC that earned another sideout. Van Der Werff posted her ninth kill of the match for set point and Robinson took care of business the next play to end the match 3-1.
Drews led the squad with 22 kills and 14 digs for her eighth double-double of the season and her third-straight match of 20 or more kills. Weatherington added 13 kills (.320) and Robinson totaled 12 kills. Stef Jankiewicz recorded 46 assists, while Vanessa Ramirez led Utah with 18 digs in the back. Van Der Werff added nine kills and six blocks for Utah, and Weatherington posted five blocks.
Utah will play its final road matches of the regular season next weekend, traveling to the desert to take on Arizona and Arizona State. Utah and Arizona will open the weekend on Friday, Nov. 12 at 3 p.m. MT, while the match against Arizona State will be played on Sunday, Nov. 14 at 1 p.m. MT. Both matches will be live streamed.