Scouting Report: #15 Washington Hosts #13 USC

  0 Derek Johnson | October 27th, 2017 | College - Women's Indoor, Pac 12

Our scouting report series continues as we at VolleyMob give you a more in-depth look at the biggest matchups of the week and the year. The Pac-12 continues to pit ranked opponents against each other as #15 Washington hosts #13 USC in Seattle.

The Huskies come into this one at 16-5 (6-4, Pac-12) and tied for fourth in the conference while the Trojans come in on the road with a 15-6 (7-3, Pac-12) mark that puts them one spot ahead in third of the league.

Game Details:


  • A strong block

The Huskies lead the Pac-12 in blocks per set this season with 3.21. Although they lack a player like Stanford or some other top teams that stands at 6’5″ or above, they have plenty of size at every position and are coached extremely well. With that balance, they have so many players who can get a big roof, led by Pac-12 block leader Lauren Sanders (1.57 blocks per set) and another top five individual blocker in the league in Marion Hazelwood (1.39 blocks per set). The Huskies’ block was even prevalent in the first meeting between these two as it kept Washington in the match with an 11-5 advantage in team blocks.

  • Serving

Overall on the season, Washington ranks second in aces per set (1.48), which has contributed even more so to their block by putting opponents out of system. However, in the earlier USC match that came in Los Angeles, Washington totaled just one service ace – a number less than their average per set – for the entirety of the three set match. They also gave away five serve errors, which wouldn’t be a bad number had they logged a few more aces but due to the lack of aggressive serving compared to other matches, it hurt them. Expect more in this one behind Washington’s home crowd.


  • Dominant Pin Players

The Trojans rank second in the conference in kills per set (14.29) and a big reason for that are USC’s two pin players, outside hitter Khalia Lanier and right side Brittany Abercrombie. Both rank in the top 10 of the Pac-12 in kills per set individually as they combine for more than half of their teams kills per set mark. That trend continues throughout USC’s roster with opposite Niki Withers and outside hitter Alyse Ford, who both average over two kills per set as well. Although the Washington block is the best in the conference, USC’s ability to throw it to so many pin options makes sure Washington has to hold a sound block as they stretch from pin-to-pin.

  • Serve reception

This conflicts with one of Washington’s success factors in that USC can halt the strong serve of Washington. That was a key in USC’s earlier victory over Washington as they held the Huskies to one ace and put down three of their own. In fact, the Trojans lead the Pac-12 in least amount of opponent aces allowed per set (0.77). They do rank lower in the conference in several defensive categories, but it hasn’t been due to serve reception. There’s a difference between good passing off the serve and keeping the ball off the ground though, so that will be important in this match after USC did it very well in the first go-around.


How does Washington beat USC?

  • Play clean

USC is just ninth in the Pac-12 in opponent hitting percentage (.203) and ranks 11th in blocks per set (2.07), yet they were able to hold Washington to a .131 clip in the first go around. Part of that was a stingy defense for USC that kept seemingly everything off the floor, but Washington also contributed to their own downfall with 22 errors compared to 38 kills, as 11 came in the third and final set. It’s a fine line between playing without risks and being efficient, but Washington will need to toe that line and play their normal offensive game as opposed to what happened in Los Angeles.

How does USC beat Washington?

  • Keep swinging

As strong as a blocking team as Washington possesses, it’s almost inevitable that the Huskies will earn several points of roofs and stuffs throughout the match. The combination of that and playing in a tough road environment in Seattle means that momentum can swing in a hurry. It will be important for USC’s strong pin players to not get discouraged when that happens and just put it behind them. They did that extremely well in the first meeting as as Abercrombie, Withers and Lanier totaled 15 errors but weren’t fazed and also notched 36 kills.

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