Arizona Volleyball (10-6, 2-5) fell to No. 5 USC (12-3, 7-1), 3-0 (27-25, 25-21, 25-19) on Friday night at McKale Center. Senior Cursty Jackson (Los Angeles) led all players in kills with 17 and sophomore Candace Nicholson (Long Beach, Calif.) led all players with 15 digs.
"We were playing them and not executing well at the end," Arizona head coach David Rubio said. "We can stay with teams until the end, but when it counts the most, we don't execute."
USC came out strong in the first set, roaring out to a 10-5 lead, but the Wildcats never trailed by more than five. When the Trojans went up 20-15, Arizona scored four-consecutive points with two kills from Taylor Arizobal (Newport Beach, Cailf.) to narrow the score to 18-20. The teams traded points until USC had its first set point at 24-23, but the Wildcats held to even it at 24 on another Arizobal kill. Arizona held off two more set points, but the Trojans took set one, 27-25.
In the second set, the Wildcats came out strong after scoring the first two points and stretching the lead to 4-1, but USC came back on a 9-1 run to make the score 11-6. The Trojans led 21-14 and Arizona fought back to make the score 23-20, but USC finished the second set 25-21.
The Wildcats went up 5-1 in the third set, but the Trojans came back and tied the score at 6-6. The teams played evenly until USC pulled away and won set three 25-19.
Arizona freshman Madi Kingdon (Phoenix, Ariz.) recorded her 10th double-digit match of the season with 10 kills and senior Marketa Hanzlova (Liberec, Czech Republic) added 11 digs.
"I like my team, we are getting better every week," Rubio said. "We are in position to win but we are just not getting it done at the end. If you are putting four freshmen on the floor, you are going to take some lumps."
Alex Jupiter led the Trojans with 16 kills and Sara Shaw contributed three blocks.
The Wildcats will return to McKale Center on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. to take on No. 2 UCLA.