Though the UCLA Bruins established themselves as colossal hypocrites this week, credit has to be given to them when it is due. This was a very good week for Westwood. Not only did their football team finally validate their contender status, but the Bruins also won the first two matches in the Crosstown Cup against the Trojans.
First, the USC and UCLA water polo teams competed in the semifinals of the NorCal Tournament. Like many games between the rivals in recent years, the match was tied heading into the fourth quarter.
The Trojans drew an exclusion against the Bruins and used quick passing to take a 7-6 lead, but the Bruins responded with three unanswered goals to take a 9-7 lead that they would hold onto in the final three minutes. UCLA went on to win the NorCal tournament by defeating Stanford 9-7, while USC lost to Cal in the third place 11-10 despite a career-record seven goals by Kostas Genidounias.
Two days later, the Trojan and Bruin women's volleyball teams met at the Galen Center to begin Pac-12 play, and UCLA won in straight sets (25-23, 25-13, 27-25). Service errors weighed down the Women of Troy, who committed 11 to the Bruins' four.
SC's starting outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu was also a non-factor, earning only six kills and notching a hitting percentage of .071. USC's top scorer, Samantha Bricio, scored a team-best 12 kills in the match, but had zero aces and three errors from the service line after serving six aces in each of the two previous matches.
For USC water polo, this defeat isn't too much of a cause for concern. The team has rebounded from disappointing losses in early tournaments during their six-year dynasty. In 2011, USC lost to UCLA in the NorCal Tournament and then went on to defeat them in the national championship 7-4. Last season, USC lost to UCLA twice but went on to defeat Stanford and Pacific to win an unprecedented sixth straight title.
Women's volleyball, on the other hand, is in a much more serious slide. The Women of Troy went on to lose to ASU in four sets on Friday, meaning that the team has lost five of their last six matches and has started Pac-12 play with an 0-2 record.
Even more worrisome is the fact that USC's home cooking has suddenly been lost. In the previous five seasons, USC had only lost seven games at Galen Center. USC is now 0-4 at home this season, with only three sets won.
UCLA, meanwhile, has taken an early lead in the new Crosstown Cup series, as the big football showdown on November 22 looms closer and closer...