The road was not kind to the Utah volleyball team (11-6, 1-5 Pac-12) this weekend, as they fell prey to the ranked schools of Southern California.
Utah senior Shelby Dalton and freshman Adora Anae both recorded a season-high 18 kills each, but it wasn’t enough as the No. 17 UCLA Bruins (12-4, 3-2 Pac-12) downed the Utes (11-5, 1-4 Pac-12) in five sets (22-25, 25-20, 18-25, 25-22, 13-15) Friday evening at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu, Calif.
UCLA jumped out to an early 4-0 run in the first set, but the Utes would settle down and not only came back to eventually tie the Bruins, but trade points with the 17th-ranked team in the nation as well. After a back-and-forth set, Utah would go on a late 4-1 run to take a 23-20 lead and Dalton would collect a pair of kills that helped lead the Utes to a 25-22 first-set win.
The Bruins came right back to win set two, 25-20, behind Karsta Lowe’s seven kills and the home squad’s .444 hitting percentage. UCLA raced out to a 9-7 lead before a 5-0 run made it 14-7. Utah would go on a 3-0 run and eventually win 11 of the next 18 points pull within four points of the Bruins, down 22-18, but UCLA won three of the next five points to take the set and tie the match up at 1-1.
Utah opened the third set with a 2-0 lead, but UCLA came back and later tied the set 4-4 following back-to-back kills. The teams would then trade points between each other before UCLA went on a 4-0 run to take a 13-8 lead. Utah would manage to keep close with the Bruins, trading points with the home squad and eventually pulling within four points, down 22-18, but UCLA scored the final three points to win 25-18 and take a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth set.
Just as they did in the first set, UCLA would take an early 4-0 lead, but Utah scored five of the next six points to tie the match 5-5. A 3-1 run would later put the Utes up 8-6 and the two squads would trade points before back-to-back kills late in the set gave Utah a 17-12 lead and forced UCLA to call a timeout. The Bruins would go on a 5-1 run out of the timeout before back-to-back points from Utah gave the Utes a 20-17 lead. The Bruins would later tie the match 22-22 with a 5-2 run before Utah came back with back-to-back points to go up set point, 24-22, and force the home squad to call a timeout. Dalton would connect on her 18th kill of the match to give Utah the 25-22 win and tie the match 2-2.
A pair of 2-0 runs from both teams would eventually tie things up 7-7 before a kill from Reily Buechler gave UCLA an 8-7 lead as the two squads changed sides. UCLA then scored the next two points to take a 10-7 lead and force Utah to call a timeout. Utah won the point out of the break in play and later came back to tie the match 11-11, but UCLA won three of the next four points to go up match point and force Utah to call its final timeout. Utah won the next point on a service error, but Utah’s next attack attempt went into the net, giving UCLA the win 15-13 and the match 3-2.
Dalton recorded a new season-high as she led the Utes with a .410 hitting percentage in the match and Utah managed to hit at a clip of .196 as a team. Senior Kalee Kirby, who led the Utes with 28 assists, also managed to record her fourth double-double of the season as she tallied 10 digs as well.
Senior Chelsey Schofield-Olsen led the Utes with 12 digs and freshman Carly Trueman notched a team-high five total blocks on the night as well.
Utah had four different players with eight kills and the Utes out-blocked the Trojans, 10-0 to 8.0 total team blocks, but USC hit .283 on the evening while Utah tallied just a .191 hitting percentage.
The Trojans would jump out to an 11-4 lead after a 9-0 run and later pushed its lead to 19-7 following a run of 8-2 over the Utes. USC would later go up match point, 24-10, before Utah went on a mini 4-0 run. The Trojans snapped the run though with a kill from Samantha Bricio and USC took the set 25-14, while limiting the Utes to its second-lowest points total in a set this season.
Utah began the second set trading points with the Trojans, but a 4-0 run helped give USC a 14-10 lead and a 5-0 run would later make it 21-15. The Utes would win five of the next eight points, but USC’s Ebony Nwanebu recorded a kill to give the Trojans the set, 25-20, and push the home squad’s lead to 2-0.
Senior Bailey Bateman opened a 4-0 run for the Utes with back-to-back kills and a block assist, to help give Utah a 7-3 lead. The Trojans would follow with two straight points, but Utah later pushed its lead to 12-8 on a kill from redshirt freshman Carly Trueman. Senior Chelsey Schofield-Olsen would later record back-to-back kills to give Utah a 19-12 lead before USC came back with consecutive points for the first time since trailing 7-5. The Trojans would manage to get back within three points of Utah, but a block assists from Bateman and senior Shelby Dalton closed gave the Utes the set, 25-21.
USC jumped out to a 3-0 lead to open the fourth set, but neither team would score two or more consecutive points until a 3-0 run from the Trojans pushed the home squad’s lead to 11-7 midway through the set. Utah countered with a 3-0 run and a 3-1 run to pull within a point of the Trojans, down 14-13, but USC came right back with five straight points to extend its lead to 19-13. Utah would win five of the next eight points, but USC’s 3-0 run ended the set (25-18) and the match (3-1).
Utah has now dropped 10 straight matches to USC and the Utes are 0-6 when facing the Trojans in Pac-12 play.
Trueman, Bateman, Schofield-Olsen and freshman Adora Anae each tallied eight kills in the match, with Trueman leading the way in hitting (.333). Senior Kalee Kirby led the squad with 22 assists and she added 10 digs for a double-double, while senior Lea Adolph tallied a season-high 19 digs on the evening. Bateman added a team-high six total blocks for the Utes as well.
USC’s Bricio led the match with 23 kills and she added 10 digs for a double-double. Taylor Whittingham led the way with a match-high 29 digs for the Trojans.
The Utes will be back in action next weekend as the team makes its return to the Huntsman Center with matches against Cal (Oct. 17) and No. 1 Stanford (Oct. 19).