No. 1 USC Set to Clash with No. 9 San Diego
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Sep 9, 2013
2013 USD Tournament - Hosted by San Diego
LOS ANGELES - Following six matches in the Midwest, the top-ranked Women of Troy will finally play a match on the West Coast as the USC women’s volleyball team (6-0) heads to San Diego for the 2013 USD Tournament.
The Trojans will face a tough ninth-ranked Torero team (4-1) in the tourney opener at 7:30 p.m. PT on Friday, Sept. 13, at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. San Diego holds its highest ranking in school history in the latest coaches poll. The Toreros have claimed wins over three top-20 opponents and were just narrowly edged in a five-set thriller by then top-ranked defending NCAA champion Texas.
On Saturday (Sept. 14), USC draws UC Santa Barbara (2-4) for a noontime start and will close the tournament with a match against Eastern Washington (3-4) at 5 p.m.
The Women of Troy are looking for a baker’s dozen as their next win gives them the program’s 13th season with a 7-0 start or better. USC has opened three of the last four years with at least a six-match winning streak and won 13 to start 2012. The Trojans are one of six remaining undefeated teams in the ultra-competitive Pac-12.
After playing its first six matches across the country, USC will play its next six in the Pacific Time zone including three at the Galen Center. The Trojans play their first home match on Wednesday (Sept. 18) against UC Irvine at 7 p.m. PT.
The Trojans are led by sophomore OH Samantha Bricio who puts up 4.68 pps (6th in the Pac-12) and leads the league (3rd in the nation) in service aces (0.90 saps). USC runs a 6-2 system in which junior Hayley Crone (5.86 aps) and freshman Alice Pizzasegola (5.29 aps) share time at setter. The two have options aplenty beyond Bricio’s dominating left-side attack.
Senior OH Sara Shaw is one of the Trojans’ top passers and 2.03 kps and 1.94 dps. On the right, USC’s attack comes from freshman OH Ebony Nwanebu (2.89 kps, 0.89 bps). Nwanebu’s impressive opening weekend garnered her Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors. Junior OH Emily Young brings lethal left-handed power to the Trojan offense (1.69 kps) while freshman OH Elise Ruddins (2.67 kps) has come on strong in USC’s most recent outings.
USC leans on senior MB Alexis Olgard (1.58 kps, 0.84 bps) and junior MB Hannah Schraer (1.00 kps, 1.24 bps) in the middle. Schraer is eighth in the Pac-12 for blocks and helps bolster a Trojan defense ranked second in the league (2.71 bps). Senior libero Natalie Hagglund ranks sixth in the Pac-12 with 4.00 dps.
TROJAN TRACKER: Get social with the Women of Troy this season. Fans can follow and interact with the USC women’s volleyball team on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by searching for USCWomensVolley.
ALL-TOURNAMENT HONORS: Following a crowing victory in the Mortar Board Premier, three Women of Troy were honored on the All-Tournament Team including sophomore OH Samantha Bricio who received MVP distinction for the third time in her career. Bricio was joined on the all-tourney team by senior libero Natalie Hagglund and freshman OH Ebony Nwanebu. The Mortar Board honorary also awarded junior OH Emily Young with the award for highest team GPA and the community service award and honored junior setter Hayley Crone with the most-improved GPA award. Bricio earned a second MVP trophy for her performance in the Marquette Challenge and was named to the All-Tournament team with Hagglund and senior MB Alexis Olgard.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY: Senior All-American libero Natalie Hagglund will have plenty of fans on hand when USC faces San Diego at the USD Tournament. The Encinitas, Calif. native prepped just 20 miles north of the USD campus at La Costa Canyon HS and was a member of the Encinitas Wave VBC. USD sophomore MH Lisa Kramer also prepped at LCCHS.
FRIDAY THE 13TH: The Trojans will meet San Diego in a top-10 matchup on Friday, Sept. 13. USC is 10-3 in all-time matches on Sept. 13 and is 4-1 in matches that have taken place on Fridays (1985, 1991, 1996). The last time the Women of Troy played a Sept. 13 match was in 2003 when it went on to complete a perfect 35-0 season en route to the NCAA title. This season marks the 10th anniversary of that championship team. If that isn’t enough superstition surrounding one match, last year, the Trojans also faced San Diego in their seventh match of the year.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS: The last time USC played a match in San Diego, it defeated San Diego State, 3-0, on Sept. 11, 1997. The Trojans have only ever faced SDSU in San Diego and own a 10-4 record in the city. USC’s match against USD will be its first-ever as the road team.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: 2013 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Trojans’ last NCAA championship squad from 2003. The ’03 Trojans went 35-0 to successfully defend conference and national titles from 2002. USC also won a then-NCAA record 47 consecutive matches during that run and became just the fourth team to go undefeated—the first to do so while defending a championship. The Trojans dropped just eight individual sets that season and were pushed to five sets just once in a road match at California. Emily Adams, April Ross, and Bibiana Candelas were each named first-team AVCA All-Americans and Keao Burdine received second-team honors. Head coach Mick Haley was selected as the National Coach of the Year while Ross was honored with the Honda Award.
USC PICKED TWO BY PAC-12 CREW: The Trojans were picked to finish second in the Pac-12 through a preseason poll of the league’s coaches. USC received two first-place votes and earned 111 points behind Stanford, which grabbed 10 first-place votes and had 120 points. Washington, Oregon, and UCLA were tabbed to finish third, fourth, and fifth respectively. Arizona State was picked sixth, and was followed by California, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. Washington State and Oregon State were picked to finish 11th and 12th. The Women of Troy have the distinction of being the first-ever winners of a Pac-12 title in 2011 and are the holders of seven league crowns (1976, ’77, ’80, 2000, ’02, ’03, ’11). The top team in the Pac-12 preseason coaches’ poll has gone on to win at least a share of the league title 17 times out of the 27 years since the poll’s inception in 1986. USC has been selected to win the conference five times since 1998.
PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE HONORS: USC senior libero Natalie Hagglund and sophomore outside hitter Samantha Bricio were each selected by the league’s coaches to the first-ever Pac-12 Preseason All-Conference Team. USC was one of four teams to have multiple players chosen to the team. Defending champion Stanford topped all teams with four selections. Oregon, Washington, and USC each had a pair while Arizona, Arizona State, California, and UCLA were each represented by a single player on the preseason all-conference team.
SCOUTING NO. 9 SAN DIEGO: No. 9 San Diego (4-1) holds its highest ranking in program history and has already claimed three victories over top-20 teams: No. 11 Hawaii and No. 11 Iowa State on the road, and No. 18 Illinois at a neutral site. The Toreros also took No. 1-ranked defending NCAA champion Texas to five sets before falling, 15-10, in Honolulu. Under the direction of head coach Jennifer Petrie, USD runs a quick offense led by its five seniors. MH Chloe Ferrari (2.73 kps) leads the team with 21 blocks (0.95 bps); C’era Oliveira tops all Toreros with 4.64 digs per set; and Rachel Alvey shares time at setter with 5.45 aps. On the front lines, junior OH Sandra Lozic leads the team with 3.32 kps and is followed by senior MH Katie Hoekman (3.18 kps) and OH Taylor Hollins (2.86 kps). The Trojans have only ever faced the Toreros at home and have won each of the nine all-time meetings, six of which were in the NCAA tournament. The last time the teams met, USC won, 3-2, in the opening match of the 2012 USC Classic Tournament at Galen Center.
SCOUTING UC SANTA BARBARA: The Gauchos (2-4) have dropped three straight since winning back-to-back five-set matches over New Mexico State and Nevada. UCSB relies heavily on senior hitters Leah Sully (3.35 kps) and Katey Thompson (3.30 kps) in an offense that runs through two setters: sophomore Hanna Nielson (8.96 aps) and junior Ali Santi (5.44 aps). Thompson also shoulders a large defensive load with 3.30 dps. Senior libero Kara Sherrard (3.31 dps) and freshman MB Allie Sullberg (0.86 bps) are the Gauchos’ other defensive leaders. The Trojans and the Gauchos haven’t met since 2005 when USC claimed a 3-1 win in the first round of the NCAA tournament. All-time, the Women of Troy own a 27-9 record over UCSB and currently hold a four-match winning streak.
SCOUTING EASTERN WASHINGTON: The Eagles (3-4) own wins over Bryant and Seattle and are coming off a four-set win against Texas Tech. Big Sky Player of the Week sophomore OH Allie Schumacher (2.71 kps) leads EWU in kills. Junior OH Melissa Waelter (2.62 kps) is second on the team in kills while sophomore OH Allison Doerpinghaus leads the Eagles with 1.26 blocks per set. USC and Eastern Washington will be meeting for the first time.