LOS ANGELES -- The Yale Bulldogs fought hard all night and made the top-ranked and seventh-seeded Trojans work for each point, but USC came away with a straight sets win (25-13, 25-13, 25-18) in NCAA Championship first round action at the Galen Center on Friday night.
Yale ended the season with an 18-7 overall record and its third Ivy League title in four years.
Bridget Hearst, playing in her final Yale match, smashed a team-high seven kills, including three during a 6-1 spurt to start the third. Mollie Rogers, the Ivy Rookie of the Year, posted six kills.
The Bulldogs’ two other seniors – Katie Cordell and captain Taylor Cramm – also contributed. Cordell had two assists and three digs, while Cramm had a kill and two block assists.
Hundreds of family members, friends and Yale alumni were scattered throughout the area wearing Bulldog dark blue, many in Section 103 across from the team bench.
At the start of the third, the Bulldogs drew their loudest cheer of the night when Hearst curled around a set from Ivy League Player of the Year Kendall Polan for a gentle tip along the right side of the net. As the ball dropped to the USC side, the Yale bench jumped to their feet.
After a USC error on the next point, the Trojans called a timeout.
The Trojans, ranked No. 1 in the latest AVCA coaches’ poll, scored six of the next seven points to tie the match. The run was capped by a Alex Jupiter, one of the Pac-12’s top hitters, with a kill.
Yale (18-7, 12-2) kept the match close and held a 12-11 lead after a USC error. The Trojans tied the set for the fifth and final time before taking the lead on the next point after a Lauren Williams kill.
Allie Frappier, a second-team All-Ivy selection, cut into the Trojan lead with a blast from the right side to cut the USC edge to 16-15. Frappier finished with 14 digs, four kills, a service ace and a block assist.
USC scored the next six points to take a 22-15 lead.
Yale fought up to the final point. On match point, 24-16, the Bulldogs’ defense kept two balls alive in back-to-back sequences and before Polan setup Rogers for her fifth kill of the night.
Polan ended the night with 19 assists, nine digs, three kills and a service ace.
Rogers responded on the next point with her sixth and final kill of the evening to keep the match going.
On the ensuing point, Jupiter tipped a ball along the left sideline to end the match.
Yale came out strong in the first set. With most of the team playing its first NCAA tournament match, the Bulldogs didn’t seem to be nervous.
Polan tipped a Maddie Rudnick pass onto the USC side to give the Bulldogs the first point of the match and prompted a loud cheer from Yale’s fans. After a Sara Shaw kill, Rogers fired a kill to give Yale the next point.
After a Yale error, McHaney Carter slammed a Yale kill to give Yale a 3-2 advantage. USC tallied the next three points.
Erica Reetz, a sophomore all-Ivy selection, recorded her only kill of the night to cut the deficit to 5-4. The Trojans rattled off the next five of the next six points.
Frappier and Haley Wessels halted the run with consecutive kills for the Bulldogs. USC scored six of the next seven points and never trailed again in the set.
The Trojans scored the first two points of set two before Yale capitalized on an error and a Polan ace to tie the match. USC pulled away with a run similar to the first set before Yale showed another refuse-to-quit performance.
Down 21-9, Hearst struck from the right side followed by a Gina Finke ace that grazed the net before falling to the court.
After a Yale error, Polan used a sneak attack to cut the deficit to 22-13. USC scored the final three points to take the set.