For the second consecutive year, USC handed the Cal volleyball team its first loss of the season.
On Friday night, the No. 7 Trojans swept the No. 1 Bears, 25-23, 25-20, 25-22, at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.
Cal (13-1, 3-1 in the Pac-12) struggled to gain any momentum during the match. USC (8-3, 3-1) slowed down right side hitter Correy Johnson, holding the junior to an abysmal .053 attack rate and rendering her signature slide play completely ineffective. Johnson entered the match averaging a .451 hitting percentage, putting her at second in the Pac-12.
Outside hitter Tarah Murrey led the squad with 14 kills, but made nine attack errors and was taking the vast majority of the swings. Setter Elly Barrett continued to go to her senior attacker, even from the back row where Murrey proved unsuccessful.
Barrett seemed to struggle with her location on sets, forcing players to make difficult shots.
The much-heralded Cal defense sputtered considerably in the third set. Trailing 15-14, libero Robin Rostratter tripped over Barrett as the setter back-pedaled to get in position, letting an easy overpass hit the floor.
Star Trojan Alex Jupiter didn’t earn one of her match-high 16 kills. The senior outside hitter took a simple roll shot from the back row without leaving the ground. The ball fell right in the middle of the Cal’s back row.
Middle hitter Shannon Hawari was the lone bright spot for the Bears, notching 12 kills for a .360 attack rate and three blocks.
The Bears travel to the John Wooden Center to take on No. 7 UCLA, which defeated No. 2 Stanford in five sets on Friday night.