(Photo: Marie Bernadette Obsuna/WCSN)
The Arizona State Sun Devils faced the No. 22 USC Trojans Wednesday night in Los Angeles. The Sun Devils would come out on the losing end, as they were defeated by the Trojans in four sets 15-25, 18-25, 27-25, 20-25.
Freshman outside hitter Khalia Lanier and senior middle blocker Elise Ruddins came out firing for the Trojans. The pair combined for 11 of the Trojans’ 17 kills in the opening set.
Lanier started the game with the first three kills for the Trojans, and USC opened up a 7-2 lead.
A kill from junior middle blocker Oluoma Okaro and a block from senior outside hitter Cassidy Pickrell would bring the Sun Devils within two, down 12-10. Okaro would finish the set with four kills on six attempts.
However, USC would respond and grow their lead to 17-12 before two straight points for the Trojans, courtesy of kills from Ruddins and Lanier, forced a timeout from Sun Devil head coach Stevie Mussie.
USC would continue to extend its lead from there, and won the first set 25-15.
The Trojans kept up their momentum to start the second set, opening up another 7-2 lead due to a 5-0 run that featured a block and kill from Lanier.
The lead for the Trojans would stay right around five points for the remainder of the set, as neither team was able to win more than two consecutive points until the end.
With a 21-17 lead, USC went on a three point run and eventually finished the set off with a 25-18 win.
Okaro and freshman outside hitter Ivana Jeremic both tallied five kills through two sets to lead the Sun Devils.
The third set started with little separation, until a three point run from ASU, highlighted with two kills by Okaro, gave the Sun Devils an 11-10 lead.
ASU held onto its one-point lead, until the Trojans went on a 4-0 run with kills from four different players to take an 18-15 lead.
Sophomore outside hitter Lexi MacLean responded with two kills and led the Sun Devils on a four point run of their own to retake the lead and force a timeout from Trojan head coach Mick Haley.
The game was knotted up at 25 before Jeremic finished the set off for the Sun Devils with two consecutive kills, winning the set 27-25.
Arizona State was unable to keep its momentum up to start the fourth set, as four unforced errors by the Sun Devils gave the Trojans an 8-2 lead.
Arizona State crawled its way back behind the arm of MacLean and cut the deficit to two before USC responded with three consecutive points to make the score 14-9.
The five-point lead would hold true for the Trojans for the remainder of the set, as they won the fourth and final set against the Sun Devils 25-20.
Lanier led the Trojans with 22 kills on the night, and Ruddins, the Pac-12 leader in hitting percentage, showcased another efficient night with a .417 hitting percentage.
MacLean and Jeremic tied for the team-high with 10 kills for the Sun Devils.
With the loss, the Sun Devils fall to 7-10 on the year, and losers of their last seven. They face the No. 12 UCLA Bruins in Pasadena, California, on Friday night.