Thursday, September 20, 2012

No. 2 USC defeats No. 1 UCLA

No. 2 USC defeated No. 1 UCLA last night, 28-26, 25-20, 24-26, 25-17. The match kicked-off a series of Wednesday-night telecasts on ESPN-U.

In reading the game article on the Trojan athletic website, I was impressed with the writer's attention to putting statistical figures in context. Many volleyball articles mention the players who had the most kills. However, merely stating the number of kills does not tell us how many attempts were required or how many errors the same hitter also had. As shown in the following brief excerpt from the article, the writer always made sure to accompany players' kill totals with their numbers of errors and attempts, and hitting percentage on the night.

USC women's volleyball senior opposite Katie Fuller knocked down 21 kills (5e, 36att) and posted a .444 hitting percentage...

Fuller's 21 kills matched a career high, but the Trojans got a major contribution from freshman outside hitter Samantha Bricio who also matched her career mark with 19 kills (6e, 50att, .260) to go with three service aces (23.0 points). Sophomore setter Hayley Crone notched a new career best with 53 assists and added four kills on second contact (0e, 5att, .800) and six digs.

UCLA's performance was hardly terrible. The Bruins sided-out, for example, at respectable levels of 62 and 63% in the first two games/sets, despite losing them both. The problem was that the Trojans did even better (66 and 80%, respectively). In none of the four games was USC's side-out rate lower than 65% (box score).

The Trojans also outhit the Bruins for the match, .311 to .297. For UCLA, Becca Strehlow's quick-sets to Mariana Aquino were working early. Aquino hit .385 on the night, with an 8-3-13 line for kills, errors, and attempts. As seen in the side-out numbers, the UCLA serve didn't challenge 'SC much. The Bruins' 11 service errors (to only 1 ace) suggest UCLA may have adopted a high-risk serving strategy to combat the Trojans' effective serve-receipt.

Also last night (and televised on Fox Sports' new Pac 12 Network), Stanford swept Cal.

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