No. 7 USC Celebrates Senior Class With 3-0 Sweep of Buffaloes
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Nov. 29, 2013
LOS ANGELES - The seventh-ranked Women of Troy (26-5, 16-4 Pac-12) honored seniors Natalie Hagglund, Alexis Olgard, and Sara Shaw before their final regular-season match and topped off the celebration with a 3-0 sweep (26-24, 25-14, 25-21) of Colorado (17-13, 9-11) at the Galen Center on Friday, Nov. 29. USC won its fourth straight match to end the regular season and will now await selection into the NCAA tournament.
Hagglund was the Trojans' heartbeat as she put up a match-high 18 digs to go with five assists and a service ace. Olgard finished the night with eight kills (1e, 18att) with a .389 hitting percentage and shared match-high honors with four blocks. Shaw knocked down five kills (2e, 15att, .200) to go with five digs and a block.
USC's offense was powered by sophomore outside hitter Samantha Bricio who led the way with 14.0 points on 12 kills (2e, 26att, .385) to go with two service aces and three digs. Bricio posted her seventh straight match with a service ace and her 29th of the season with at least one. Freshman outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu had 11 kills (2e, 24att) and hit .375 to go with two blocks.
The Trojans out-hit Colorado, .322 to .195, and had 48 kills (10e, 118att) thanks to setters Hayley Crone (17 assists and five digs) and Alice Pizzasegola (21 assists, eight digs). It is the 28th time in 31 matches that USC has posted a higher hitting percentage than its opponent.
For Colorado, Taylor Simpson was the go-to option as she logged a match-high 16 kills (7e, 41att) with a .220 hitting percentage with 12 digs for a double-double. Simpson also had a service ace and three blocks for the Buffs. Nikki Lindow had eight kills (2e, 16att), hit .375, and had four blocks. Setter Nicole Edelman logged 26 assists and had three kills and five digs to go with a pair of blocks.
The Buffaloes came to the fight armed and scored the first two points of the match to hold a lead until Ruddins went crosscourt for a kill and put a 5-4 lead on USC's side of the scoreboard. The teams went back and forth to a sixth tie before Shaw rolled her shot down the line for a point and a 10-9 Trojan lead, but Colorado came back and snatched the lead away as Simpson picked up a pair of kills. Simpson went off USC hands to pull the Buffs in front by four points at 16-12. With some work to do, the Trojans stayed the course and came within two points several times until Bricio's crosscourt kill brought USC within a point at 20-19. A CU error and another kill by Bricio put the Trojans on top at 21-20 before Hagglund's ace gave USC a brief 22-20 lead. The Buffaloes fought to get back in the set and knotted the score at 23-all but Olgard and Ruddins gave the Trojans set point at 25-24 with a block. Pizzasegola went quick to Schraer who put the final ball down for a 26-24 win. USC hit .317 in the first set with 19 kills (6e, 41att) and outpaced Colorado's .237 hitting percentage with 14 kills (5e) on 38 attempts.
USC seized control of the second set and raced off to a 25-14 win to claim a 2-0 lead in the match. Shaw went down the line to give the Trojans a 6-4 lead before the defense kicked in and Nwanebu and Schraer blocked Simpson to get USC up, 10-6. The Buffs stayed close for a few points but Nwanebu tipped one softly to the floor for another four-point Trojan lead at 12-8. That point sent Pizzasegola to the line to serve the next five, which resulted in a 16-8 lead when Bricio's cut shot went off a Buffalo for the point. Colorado scored the next two points, but USC had a response and closed out the set on a 9-4 run. Ruddins went with a line shot for a 19-11 lead and did it again to get the Trojans a 21-11 lead. Anne Marie Schmidt served an ace to make USC's lead 11 at 22-11 before Schraer's solo block of Lindow gave the Trojans set point at 24-13. The Buffs scored one more before an error closed out the set for the Trojans who hit .281 in the frame with 12 kills (3e) on 32 swings. Colorado was held to a negative .031 hitting rate (7k, 8e) on 32 attacks.
The Trojans created their first sizable lead of the third set on back-to-back pipe-set kills by Bricio. She took the first from Pizzasegola and the second from Crone to get USC up, 9-6. The Trojans got in front by four, 13-9, when Olgard and Ruddins stuffed Simpson at the net, but she came back to score on back-to-back rallies to get the Buffs within two. Bricio hit the pipe once more to post a 16-12 Trojan lead on the board. Lindow ran a slide play and Simpson followed with a back-row kill to pull Colorado within two at 17-15, but Nwanebu scored on back-to-back plays and Shaw and Bricio came through with kills to get USC in front by six points at 21-15. Two kills by Katelyn Cuff brought Colorado within three before Jess Aschenbrenner scored the ace to cut USC's lead to two, 22-20. Nwanebu and Ruddins stopped the bleeding with a pair of kills for match point, 24-20. Colorado saved one point but committed one final error to seal a 25-21 win and the 3-0 sweep for the Trojans. USC hit .356 in the final frame with 17 kills (1e) on 45 swings and needed every point to stay in front of Colorado's .326 hitting rate (5e) with 19 kills on 43 swings.
The Trojans now await selection into the 2013 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championships. USC has made 22 consecutive appearances in the annual tournament (30 overall) and has hosted first and second round matches in each of the last 10 years. In 2012, the Women of Troy advanced to its ninth regional championship match since 1998 before falling to eventual champion Texas.
The NCAA will announce the field of 64 teams during a live show on ESPNU on Sunday, Dec. 1, at 6:30 p.m. PT. Please visit NCAA.com and USCTrojans.com for more information.