Bench Boost

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

No. 17 USC women's soccer's bench came up big in the team's second win of the season this weekend, with freshman Mckenzie Taylor and sophomore Sydney Johnson scoring one goal apiece in the second half to put away UC Riverside, 2-0. The hard-fought game went scoreless until the 75th minute when the freshman turned a pass from Dominique Johnson into her first collegiate goal, scoring from 13 yards out to give the Trojans the lead.

Click here for a complete recap of the game.

"The motto is "One Moment, One Now," and we had two women come into the game today that took their moments and helped their team win," head coach Keidane McAlpine said after the game.

With two road victories under their belts, the Women of Troy are off to a promising start in 2015. Their away slate continues this weekend against two, top-ranked opponents in No. 21 Duke and No. 6 North Carolina. The Trojans take on the Blue Devils on Friday at 4:30 p.m. PT before facing the Tar Heels on Saturday at 8 a.m. PT.

Here are Saturday's two goal scorers, as well as junior goalie Sammy Jo Prudhomme, after the victory...

Photo Gallery: WVB Wins Baden Invitational

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No. 22 USC women's volleyball can expect to surge up the national rankings this week after a spectacular start to the 2015 season, winning the Baden Invitational at Galen Center by defeating No. 7 North Carolina, Chicago State and No. 11 BYU in a two-day span.

Click here for the UNC highlights.

Click here for the BYU highlights.

The Women of Troy dropped just one set over three matches, needing four sets to top the Tar Heels on Friday before sweeping both of Saturday's opponents. The Trojans placed three student-athletes on the All-Tournament Team led by MVP Samantha Bricio, plus senior Alicia Ogoms and sophomore Brittany Abercrombie.

Here are the John McGillen photos from the Top 10 win over UNC:

Season Opening Depth Chart

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USC head coach released the depth chart for the season opener against Arkansas State.

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2015 Football Captains

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USC football announced the 2015 team captains: QB Cody Kessler, C Max Tuerk, LB Su'a Cravens, LB Anthony Sarao and DT Antwaun Woods.

Click here for the captain's press conference.

Kessler and Tuerk are the 13th and 14th multiple-time captains in USC history. Three defensive captains were chosen because the vote was so tight.


2015 Mock Game: Notes

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The Trojans simulated game day today, arriving two hours early, getting dressed at the Coliseum, and then playing a mock game against the scout team.
  • While nothing noteworthy happened on the field during the non-contact practice, head coach Steve Sarkisian's press conference was full of juicy tidbits.
  • First, he brought out the 2015 team captains: QB Cody Kessler, C Max Tuerk, LB Su'a Cravens, LB Anthony Sarao and DT Antwaun Woods.
  • Because the voting was so close, the coaching staff settled on three defenders.
  • And then, Sarkisian announced that offensive coordinator Clay Helton will take over the primary play-calling responsibilities. After assessing his first season at USC, Sarkisian developed the plan, starting in spring football, to transition the offense over to Helton, so he can focus on his duties as a head coach. Helton will call plays from the sideline.
  • Sarkisian: "I want to be a great head coach. I don't want to set offensive records and be 8-5 or 9-4. I want to win 14 games."
  • Finally, Sarkisian announced the winners of a pair of camp battles. Alex Wood will be the starting placekicker for the season opener, while senior Tre Madden was named the starting tailback. Junior RB Justin Davis, who is dealing with a rib injury, is questionable for the first game, so the Trojans could rely on three freshmen, Ronald Jones II, Aca'Cedric Ware and Dominic Davis, to backup Madden.
  • Here is Sarkisian's lengthy and newsworthy press conference:

Get to Know: Cody Kessler

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Beyond the recruiting bios, stat columns, post-game quotes and jersey numbers, every one of USC's elite student-athletes possesses a unique personality. Whether it's their life motto, hidden talent or spirit animal, there's more that makes up each of our Trojan athletes than what's put on display come game day.

For our final "Get to Know" graphic of the series, we learn more about QB Cody Kessler. The redshirt senior has a big season ahead as ESPN already has him third in its preseason Heisman poll.

But, Kessler is able to handle the hype because he lives a balanced life. He is an accomplished student, working towards a master's degree, and when things get really tense, he can chill out and pick at his guitar.


Finding Her Voice

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Written by Grace DeWitt, USC blog contributor

USC_WVB_UCLA_092414_MCG5285.JPGWith a laundry list of accolades, including AVCA All-America Second Team, Pac-12 All-Conference Team, and Pac-12 All-Star Team in 2014 alone, it's hard to find something senior Samantha Bricio has not accomplished, but this year's USC women's volleyball captain still has a couple of goals in mind for her final season with the Trojans.

First, reclaim the title of No. 1 server in the country, which she held as a sophomore in 2013. Add in winning a national championship, and Bricio has her work cut out for her. Her greatest challenge, however, has nothing to do with aces or W's.

"Normally, I'm a really quiet player. I don't really like to talk a lot, but now that I'm the captain, I know I have to talk more to help my teammates," explained the Mexican native, for whom English is a second language.

While a language barrier may have excused her from being more vocal in the past, the veteran knows it's time to shake her shyer disposition.

"I'm still working on it. When I'm playing, I don't like to be cheering and jumping, I'm not like that. I'm more like a quiet player," she said. "Now I have to communicate more, I have to talk more. It's going to be hard for me."

Bricio admits that as a young volleyball star growing up in Guadalajara, she had not even heard of the NCAA. That lack of awareness is something she hopes to change as she considers the legacy she'll leave behind when her time at USC comes to a close. 

"For me, it's really important to give an example of someone from a different country, from Latin America, who can come here and do [what I've done]," said Bricio. "I don't know of a lot of players from Mexico, Guatemala, places like that in Central America or South America, so I think that's something that I really want to leave as a legacy. Letting little girls know they can do it--even in the U.S., even in collegiate volleyball--that's something I'm really excited about. That's something I really play for."

Bricio and the No. 22 ranked USC women's volleyball team host the Baden Invitational at the Galen Center this weekend, and start their season tonight against No. 7 North Carolina (Pac-12 Networks at 8 p.m. PT).

Eight to Wait

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USC starts the season ranked No. 8 in the AP Top 25, which is exactly how many days are left until kickoff.


Meet the New Women of Troy

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No. 22 USC women's volleyball opens its season tonight at home against No. 7 North Carolina (8 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Networks), which could mean the debut for several new Trojans.

Before they show off their stuff on the court, we got to meet the colorful side of the Class of 2015.

Generations: Antwaun Woods & Shaun Cody

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All-American Shaun Cody and redshirt senior Antwaun Woods, anchors of USC defensive lines a decade apart, sat down together for a film session and conversation before the season to kick off our new series, Generations.

Generations is our opportunity to bring together USC greats with the current players at their position ready to continue the legacy in 2015. We will have several videos over the next two weeks, so stay tuned.

In our first installment, Cody, a two-time national champion at USC, who recently retired after eight years in the NFL, keeps it light with Woods, a respected and vocal team leader for this year's Trojans.