Infographic: USC 42, ASU 14

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Undefeated, and Just Getting Started

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Written by Grace DeWitt, USC blog contributor 

The Women of Troy launched their 2015 campaign with a shocking speed that has stunned their first 13 opponents. According to head coach Mick Haley, this storm has been brewing for quite sometime. 

"We've been watching the different systems as far back as when we played at Penn State [in 2011]," said Haley. "We had made a conscious decision that we were going to go fast as soon as we could get our personnel to match up with what we wanted to do."

This season has brought a mix of new coaches and players that has finally enabled Haley to execute his grand plan. He's been thrilled with a coaching staff that has "really stepped it up" at practice, in turn heightening the sense of excitement he feels when the players report to the gym each day.

Next is a host of new freshmen talent that has pleasantly surprised him by quickly acclimating to the new style of play and to college life. They complement a score of seasoned veterans including junior Taylor Whittingham, who leads the conference in digs per set, senior Alicia Ogoms, who leads the conference in blocks per set, and senior Samantha Bricio, who leads the conference in points scored per set.

"Those three are pretty much taking care of business," said Haley, adding that the current roster had been carefully constructed over the past few years with this new system in mind. 

"That's really how this is. It's not anything that's been a guess or a panic or anything like that. It's been pretty premeditated," said Haley. "This has always been the plan." 

Despite their perfect record, the coach maintains a cautious optimism, and wouldn't be surprised if other teams have yet to take the Trojans seriously. "We're playing such a different system, it's hard to believe this will work," he said. "We're so fast that you really think that eventually we'll just error ourselves out of matches and that's a legitimate discussion. So far, we're responsible enough that that hasn't happened."

For now, the team's accelerated pace presents an exceptional challenge to their conference opponents. "It's something that other teams can't practice for, so now we are kind of an anomaly," said Haley. "Are you going to spend your time practicing for us, or are you going to spend your time practicing for the other 11 teams?"

Though they couldn't be off to a better start, Haley sees areas in need of fine-tuning. The Trojans opened Pac-12 play against crosstown foe UCLA in a match won by a promising defensive performance, one that Haley emphasized must continue to develop. Also on his to-do list is bringing his backups up to a higher level for improved depth. But no matter how much more work still needs to be done, it's impossible for anyone to ignore just how bright the future looks for these ladies.

"If I get up in the morning and I'm not excited to come to work, that's the time to quit," Haley said. "I'm up every morning and I can't wait to get here to see what they can do next."

USC heads up the coast this weekend to take on No. 8 Stanford on Sunday. Catch the game live at 4 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Networks. 

2015 Game 4: USC vs. ASU

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No. 19 USC Trojans (2-1) at Arizona State Sun Devils (2-1)

Sun Devil Stadium at 7:30 p.m. PT on ESPN and WatchESPN

DJ-Foster.jpgSun Devil to Watch: Senior WR/RB D.J. Foster

Like Christian McCaffrey last week, Foster will be used in a myriad of ways as the central focus of Arizona State's offense. Last year, he ran for more than 1,000 yards to lead the team, and rank seventh in the Pac-12, but the Sun Devils were deep at tailback, so Foster moved to receiver this season. However, he has still carried the ball 20 times for 97 yards. Lining up all over the field, he leads the team with 16 catches.

Click here for more on the Sun Devils.

3 Keys

Break the Dam Open

The Trojans are the only team in the nation that has played three games this season without yielding a turnover. However, USC has not taken the ball away in the last eight quarters after forcing four turnovers in the season opener. Head coach Steve Sarkisian has emphasized turnovers as a way to swing close games in his team's favor, and they are even more important on the road. USC is -7 in the turnover margin in its back-to-back losses at Sun Devil Stadium in 2011 and 2013.

More Plays to Make Plays

USC is third in the nation in yards per play (8.45), so naturally, the Trojans want to run as many plays as possible. However, the offense has struggled on third downs, ranking 116th in the nation with a 30.8 percent conversion rate. Conversely, the defense forced only two punts last week, so the offense ran just 60 plays. Sarkisian wants to be closer to 100 plays, so the key is for the offense to stay on the field, and the defense to get off it.
Double Meaning

The Trojans' stated goal is to win the Pac-12 South, and so while the Stanford loss hurt, at least it came against an opponent in the North. The game at Arizona State, a fellow South contender, counts double with the possibility of tiebreakers down the road. The Sun Devils have won three of the last four in the match-up, and no Trojan will ever forget how last year's game ended. While the team emphasizes a faceless opponent, motivation will not be in short supply this week.


Pac-12 Preview: USC vs. ASU

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With a huge primetime conference showdown in the desert due up this Saturday night, the Pac-12 Networks crew provided a preview of USC at Arizona State.

Scandalis' Year

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

Announced on Friday, former USC women's tennis All-American Zoe Scandalis is one step closer to being named the 2015 NCAA Woman of the Year. The Trojan is one of nine finalists for the award which recognizes graduating female student-athletes for excellence in academics, athletics, community service and leadership.

Click here for more on the award

Scandalis, a 2015 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient, is one of two Pac-12 student-athletes to be named finalists, and one of just three Division-I finalists. The 2015 NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced on October 18 at a ceremony in Indianapolis.


Blocking the Bruins

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The key to No. 3 USC women's volleyball's sweep over No. 13 UCLA was the wall the Women of Troy built at the net. The team combined for 11 blocks, holding the Bruins to a .056 hitting rate.

Next up: USC travels to No. 8 Stanford on Sunday (4 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks).

Star-Studded Trio Signs for 2016

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The calendar still says 2015, but the Trojans are already stocking up for 2016.

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian announced the signing of three early entrants who will enroll for the spring semester. The new Trojan trio includes outside linebacker Daelin Hayes (top), offensive tackle Nathan Smith (middle) and safety C.J. Pollard (bottom).


Photo Gallery: WVB Storms Pauley

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No. 3 USC women's volleyball went into Pauley Pavilion and silenced the Bruins in three short sets. The undefeated Women of Troy are next in action on Sunday at No. 8 Stanford (4 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Networks).

Here are the John McGillen photos from the sweep of No. 13 UCLA:

The Battle of Sammy Jo

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USC women's soccer goalie Sammy Jo Prudhomme will be in the crosshairs on Saturday as the Women of Troy open their Pac-12 season against Oregon State, the school from which she transferred, at McAlister Field (1 p.m. PT kickoff).

Prudhomme's teammates Reilly Parker and Jamie Fink enhanced the spotlight in the first episode of "What do you think?" with Parker and Fink.

First Blood

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No. 3 USC women's volleyball made short work of rival UCLA last night, sweeping the No. 13 Bruins and banking the first points for the Trojans in the 2015-16 SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup standings.

Click here for the match recap.

The Women of Troy are now 13-0 for the fifth time in head coach Mick Haley's 15-year tenure. Eleven of the 13 wins have come in straight sets.

Click here for the SnappyTV highlights.

Freshman outside hitter Alyse Ford introduced herself to the Bruin faithful at Pauley Pavilion by posting a team-high 11 kills. Steady senior Samantha Bricio, who has already won Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week three times this season, added 10 kills.