LOS ANGELES - No. 6 seed Southern California defeated the 2013 America East Champion New Hampshire Wildcats, 3-0, in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday night at the Galen Center by set scores of 25-9, 25-10 and 25-12.
New Hampshire finishes the season with a 20-13 record as its season-high nine game winning streak was snapped by the Women of Troy. The Wildcats won their first conference title in a decade to make their fourth NCAA tournament appearance. New Hampshire returned to the spot of their last NCAA appearance in 2003 which was a three-set loss to the same USC team. Southern California, which received an at-large invitation out of the PAC-12, advances to the second round, improving to 27-5.
Senior right side hitter and America East Player of the Year Morgan Thatcher led the Wildcats with eight kills. Desity Tolliver chipped-in four kills and a block, while Taylor Dunklau registered 13 assists.
In the opening set, the Women of Troy downed the Wildcats by a score of 25-9 on the strength of 15 kills and a .636 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Tori Forrest, as well as Thatcher and Tolliver logged two kills each for UNH. Freshman outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu paced Southern California with six kills with a .857 clip. Sophomore outside hitter Samantha Bricio notched four service aces in the set.
New Hampshire fell behind early to start the first set as USC opened a 7-2 advantage. The Wildcats received offensive contributions from Dunklau, Tolliver and Thatcher. However, Southern California kept the pressure on, hitting at a game-high .636 clip in the frame. The Wildcats called a timeout, trialing 20-6. After the stoppage, Thatcher would strike two kills to cut Southern California's lead. Despite UNH's efforts, the Women of Troy captured the first set, 25-9.
USC captured set two 25-10 powered by a 17-kill effort from the Women of Troy. New Hampshire tallied six kills in the stanza. New Hampshire registered six kills with a pair coming from junior middle blocker Delaney Dameron.Freshman middle blocker Demi Muses racked up two blocks in the stanza. Senior middle blocker Alexis Olgard paced the Southern California attack with four kills.
The Women of Troy completed the three-set sweep as USC took the decisive set 25-12. Thatcher paced all hitters in the third set with five kills on the strength of a .571 hitting percentage. Senior outside hitter Sara Shaw and freshman outside hitter Elise Ruddins each
The end of the 2013 season marked the end of UNH careers for seniors Thatcher and Tolliver. The duo led the Wildcats to three America East postseason appearances, a conference title and their first NCAA Tournament appearance in a decade.