Back at One

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USC men's tennis climbed back to the No. 1 spot in the national rankings after defeating UCLA and winning the Pac-12 regular season title.  The Trojans now head off to Ojai for the Pac-12 Championship riding a 16-match winning streak.

Click here for a preview.

Men's tennis is one of three active USC programs ranked No. 1 in the country joining women's golf and women's sand volleyball.  The Trojans get an automatic bye into the semifinals on Friday, so one win would put them in Saturday's final, which will be broadcast on tape delay by Pac-12 Networks on Sunday.

Yannick Hanfmann was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week.

Championship Preview

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The three best teams in the nation are the three top seeds in this weekend's women's water polo MPSF Championship at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center (April 25-27). 

The Women of Troy, seeded third, will host the tournament, which they are trying to win for the second consecutive time and fourth time overall. USC will likely need to go through No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 UCLA, but No. 6 Arizona State poses the first challenge on Friday at 12:30 p.m.

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If USC advances, it will play in the semifinals at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.  The championship game is set for 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Click here for the tournament central page with ticket information.

Here is a preview of the Women of Troy heading into a big weekend:

Misty Inspires Golden Dreams

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USC sand volleyball volunteer coach Misty May-Treanor knows exactly what it takes to win Olympic gold.  She knows the formula so well that she executed it three times, and now plans to impart her wisdom on the next generation.

As part of a Pac-12 Sports Report feature with Yogi Roth, May-Treanor explained how she pushes all the Trojans to dream big.

Reminder: Lonnie White Memorial

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The family of Lonnie White, a Trojan football great and award-winning LA Times sportswriter, has created a beautiful tribute site for friends and fans to send donations for his memorials, which will be held April 26 at USC (Noon inside the Galen Center Founder's Room).

If you'd like to contribute to the memorial fund or just read the dedications, click here to view the site.


Crunch Time

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

After a three-game losing skid, USC women's lacrosse was resurrected on Easter Sunday with an upset over No. 13 Stanford in the Coliseum. 

The Trojans' 11-10 victory over the Cardinal is their first win over a ranked opponent in program history, and they did it in thrilling fashion. USC took the lead with 11:18 to play, but the defense had to hold off the aggressive Stanford attack, including a huge save by goalie Liz Shaeffer with 59 seconds left to play. 

The winning effort was led offensively by the Trojan freshmen as both attacker Annie Ruland and midfielder Alex Moore scored hat tricks, while midfielder Michaela Michael added two goals and forced a turnover. The stunning upset guarantees USC at least the fifth seed heading into the MPSF Tournament as they finished 6-3 in conference play. 

More importantly, the upset marks a turnaround for the Women of Troy who were atop the conference before two rough, one-goal losses to Colorado and No. 20 Denver followed by a home loss to Oregon.

"It definitely stinks to lose like that especially by one and then one in overtime," said defender Courtney Tarleton. "But, especially for the Denver game it just shows you how close we are to a top 20 team. We can compete with anyone so you can definitely look at it positively."

While the program is making waves on the national scene, there is still a lot of room for improvement. The young squad competes with top programs, but struggles to close them out.

"We definitely need to act older than we are. We can't make any of these young mistakes that people expect us to make," added Johansen. "When we have the ball at the end of games, we need to know what to do in the right situations. We need to know when to shoot, when to hold the ball, all that stuff. It's really hard to do but we need to be really mature about it and act like we're not freshmen or sophomores. We need to act like upperclassmen."

From the beginning, head coach Lindsey Munday has emphasized the mentality of taking things slowly and focusing on getting better every day. Despite the looming pressure of the MPSF Tournament, Munday tries to keep it simple with her young team.

The Trojans finally put this mentality into practice on Sunday in the Coliseum when they stunned No. 13 Stanford proving that they can not only compete with top 20 teams but can also put forth the necessary effort to close out these tight games. The Coliseum isn't the only famous stadium the Trojans will play a game in this season as their next contest will take place at historic Wrigley Field on April 26 against the Northwestern Wildcats. 

"It's really special to play in the Coliseum and certainly at Wrigley so we want to take in the moment when we can during walk-thru practices and at the right times," said the head coach. "But certainly, come game time, it's a game and it kind of doesn't matter where we play, but obviously, they're really special stadiums, so we really want to enjoy them when we can."

After the Women of Troy hit the big stage against Northwestern this weekend, they will gear up for the MPSF Tournament where they will be either a third, fourth or fifth seed depending on this week's final action. Last season, they entered the tournament as a fourth seed but ultimately fell to Denver in the semifinals. Now, it's crunch time as the Trojans enter the tournament with the quality victory they needed to give them the confidence to face top 20 teams like Denver and Stanford in postseason play. 

Big Nights for DeRozan and Gibson

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USC men's basketball alums DeMar DeRozan and Taj Gibson enjoyed starring roles on the NBA postseason stage last night. 

Bouncing back from a rough NBA Playoffs debut, DeRozan poured in 30 points in Game 2 to lead the Raptors to a victory evening the series with Nets at 1-1.  Gibson's Bulls are down 0-2, but the big man did everything he could last night posting a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds.

While the Lakers did not make the playoffs, Nick Young is still enjoying postseason action at Staples Center.  He attended the Los Angeles Kings Game 3 overtime loss in his custom made "Swaggy P" sweater, and even got to drive the zamboni.

Pat's Chats - Cody Kessler (Part I)

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USC athletic director Pat Haden welcomed starting quarterback Cody Kessler into his office for the newest webisode of "Pat's Chats".  The two QBs touched on several different football topics including the evolution of the position, media scrutiny and the adversity of last season.

Leading the World

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USC senior Aleec Harris was named the Pac-12 Men's Track Athlete of the Week for his historic run in the 110-meter hurdles at the Mt. SAC Relays. Harris posted a world-leading time of 13.32 to set a new school record.

Click here for the complete release.

Harris won the race defeating volunteer coach and Trojan great Ryan Wilson, the 2013 USA Track & Field Champion, in the process.  USC track and field is in San Diego this weekend for the Triton Invitational.

Harris at Trojan InvitationalDA.jpg(Photo by Dan Avila)

Spring Breakout: Scott Starr, OLB

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

There is plenty to be excited about in the upcoming year of USC football, and with spring ball completed, the Trojans have discovered new and improved talent all across the field. Whether new to the roster or finally positioned for a starting role, this year's spring breakouts are ready to make a difference.

Starr-Camp2-McG.jpgName: Scott Starr
Year: Redshirt Sophomore
Position: Outside Linebacker

The Past: A highly touted recruit out of high school, Scott Starr showed serious promise as a linebacker seeing time as a true freshman in games against Hawaii, Syracuse and Stanford on special teams and as a backup. However, he was sidelined and consequently redshirted after suffering a neck injury prior to the California game. This injury really seemed to plague Starr's early career at USC as it caused him to miss 2013 Spring Football, lessening his chances at a starting spot come the 2013 season. Due to a banged up front seven, Starr did see some playing time at the end of the 2013 season, appearing in the last six games and racking up nine tackles and one deflection.

The Present: After losing the likes of Devon Kennard and Morgan Breslin, the 3-4 defense has openings at both outside linebacker spots. Starr has been working in with the ones all spring, finally getting his chance to show this new coaching staff some of the reasons why he was recruited in the first place. He's also demonstrated an outstanding learning curve showing that he's really observed those who played in front of him and really put in the effort necessary to earn a starting spot. 

The Future: Starr will compete with the likes of J.R. Tavai, Quinton Powell and Jabari Ruffin at the outside linebacker positions with all four expected to play significant roles. For most alignments, look to see Starr or Tavai as the rush outside linebacker with Powell and Ruffin competing for the other OLB spot.

Wilcox on Starr: "I really like his hybrid body type. He's into football, which is important. I'm excited about Scott."

Here is Starr with our Caroline Deisley...

One Thing Left To Do

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No. 1 USC women's sand volleyball will carry the top seed into the 2014 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships set to take place in Gulf Shores, Ala., May 2-4.

And why not?

The Women of Troy are 20-1 on the season having won 19 consecutive dual matches.  They are led by Kirby Burnham and Sara Hughes, the nation's top pair, who are riding a 26-match winning streak of their own after claiming the
inaugural Pac-12 Invitational on Sunday.

Now in the program's third year, the only thing left to accomplish is a team national championship.  The Trojans will have to usurp No. 2 Pepperdine, the preeminent power in the sport, as well as a field that includes No. 3 Florida State and No. 4 Hawaii.

USC will gets its final tuneup before the postseason this weekend in Tucson against Arizona and Boise State. 

USC and Pepperdine are expected to joust for the title.