Utah Volleyball Leaves Los Angeles With Weekend Split
LOS ANGELES – Utah Volleyball closed out the weekend's action in Los Angeles with a four-set loss to USC (19-25, 25-21, 17-25, 21-25) on Sunday afternoon at the Galen Center. Madelyn Robinson posted her third match of 20 or more kills, while Vanessa Ramirez recorded her sixth match of 20-plus digs this season to lead the Utes on the day.
The Utes and Trojans began the match in an offensive battle as both teams hit .300 or better in the opening set. USC pulled out to a 12-6 lead after four straight points that included a kill and three blocks in a row. Utah went on to close the gap to just 16-14, but allowed the Trojans to score four of the next five points to lead 20-15. Although Utah trimmed the score to just three points, USC ran away with the set after a 4-1 run to win 25-19. Madelyn Robinson led the team with six kills on .400 hitting, while Allie Olsen posted three kills on .600 hitting.
After trading runs of points to start the second set, Utah gained some separation after using a 4-1 run to lead 17-13. Utah held on to the advantage and extended the lead to five, 20-15, after a dump from setter Emily Smith, but the Trojans scored five of the next six points to trail just 21-20. Utah used a service error to gain the sideout, which was followed by a huge block from Lauren Jardine to send the teams into a timeout with the Ute lead sitting at 23-20. A Trojan attack error out of the break would give Utah set point and soon after, Robinson's 14th kill of the match and eighth of the set would end the set 25-21.
The hot-hitting cooled off for the Utes in the third set as they were held to just .188 hitting after recording above .300 in the previous two sets. The third frame went back and forth to start, but when USC held a 15-13 lead, the Trojans posted a 8-1 run to break open the set 23-14. The large spurt of points was too much to overcome as Utah fell 25-17 in the set to trail the match 2-1.
The fourth set went back and forth from start to finish with the largest lead of the frame being just three points until the final moments of the match. Leading 6-5, Utah saw USC take four of the next five points to push ahead 9-7. Utah countered with five consecutive points to earn back the lead 12-9. Later, kills from Abby Karich and Robinson left the Utes leading by three points, 15-12, at the media timeout. USC took back control after a 5-1 run that forced Utah to call timeout trailing 17-16.
Jardine evened the score out of the break as the teams would go on to trade points the next few rallies. A kill from USC's Skylar Fields gave the home team a 20-19 advantage and began a 4-0 run that put Utah behind 23-19. KJ Burgess ended the run with her sixth kill of the match before Allie Olsen tallied another the following play. Out of a USC timeout, the Utes could not keep the momentum and two points from the Trojans would secure the 25-21 fourth set win.
Utah's offense was led by Robinson's 23 kills, which marked her third 20-plus kill performance of the season and her first in a four-set match. Smith dished out 35 assists and Burgess added six kills on .600 hitting to add to the offense. Burgess also posted a team-high five blocks.
The strong defensive presence from the Utes continued on Sunday as Vanessa Ramirez collected a match-high 22 digs, which marks her sixth match of 20 or more digs this season. Megan Yett had a tremendous effort as well, finishing just one dig shy of a career best with 17 digs, while also adding in two aces.
Utah begins another four-match home stand next week, beginning with the Bay Area schools coming into town. The Utes host California on Friday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. MT in the Huntsman Center. Then, Utah will turn its attention to a match on national television when ninth-ranked Stanford visits on Sunday, Oct. 9, at 4 p.m. MT. The Utes and Cardinal will compete on ESPNU to close out the weekend.