USC Opens Home Schedule with UC Irvine
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Sept. 16, 2013
LOS ANGELES - The fifth-ranked USC women's volleyball team (8-1) will play its first home match of 2013 at Galen Center as host to UC Irvine (7-3) on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. PT. The Women of Troy and the Anteaters will do battle before a live ESPNU national audience with Adam Amin and Maria Taylor on the broadcast.
After playing their first nine matches on the road, the Trojans will play five of their next six within the friendly confines of the Galen Center. Its matches against UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton (Friday, Sept. 20) will be USC's last two non-conference matchups before the rigors of the Pac-12 schedule arrive.
The Trojans are 94-10 (.904) all-time at the Galen Center. In fact, USC has lost just one home match in each of the last three seasons and is currently on a 10-match winning streak. The last time the Women of Troy went undefeated in home matches was in 2007 when USC was 19-0 en route to an appearance in the NCAA semifinals.
In total, the Trojans are a combined 33-0 against this week's opponents (11-0 vs. UCI; 22-0 vs. CSUF). USC's dominance over the two local foes has been so prevalent that it has only been pushed to five sets once in each of the series.
Irvine's visit to the Galen Center signifies a return to campus for one of USC's all-time greats. Hall of Fame middle blocker Paula Weishoff (inducted in 1998) is the fifth-year head coach of the Anteaters. She was an All-American at Troy and led the Trojans to the 1980 AIAW National Championship. She was named MVP of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games and is the only woman ever to play on three U.S. Olympic teams. As an assistant to head coach Mick Haley, she had a hand in the Trojans two NCAA titles (2002-03). In her first two years at UCI, her squads played a home-and-home with USC in which the Trojans recorded a pair of 3-0 sweeps.
Offensively, USC's weaponry is spread across eight different hitters. Freshman OH Elise Ruddins leads the team with 3.68 kps and was recently named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week. Sophomore OH Samantha Bricio puts up 3.06 kps and is the conference leader for service aces (21) at 0.68 saps. She ranks seventh in the Pac-12 at 4.27 points per set.
Defensively, the Trojans lean on senior All-American Natalie Hagglund who puts up 4.53 digs per set (fourth in the Pac-12). Junior MB Hannah Schraer leads the team with 1.20 bps while senior MB Alexis Olgard is a shade behind with 1.10 bps and is also an offensive threat with 1.73 kps.
At the heart of the USC offense, setters Hayley Crone (6.25 aps) and Alice Pizzasegola (5.22 aps) run the show. Head coach Mick Haley is closing in on his 1,100 win as a women's collegiate head coach (including seven years at Kellogg CC). He has 1,095 heading into the final week of the pre-conference schedule.
SCOUTNG UC IRVINE: The Anteaters (7-3) have won their last two matches to snap a three-match skid. UCI opened the year with a five-match winning streak and has already played in three five-set matches. Senior OH Aly Squires leads the Anteaters with 3.50 kps (.237) and is followed closely by sophomore RS Marisa Bubica (3.28 kps, .324). In its 6-2 system, UCI also gets a large chunk of its offensive production from freshman OH Cassidy Pirckrell (2.57 kps) and junior OH Allison Lee (2.54 kps). Senior MB Shannon Fleming puts up 1.10 bps and leads the team with 12 service aces. Setters Shelley Anderson (7.57 aps) and Mackenzi Campbell (5.00 aps) run the UCI offense. The Trojans own an 11-0 all-time record over the Anteaters and have been pushed to five sets just once in the series' history. USC earned a sweep at home the last time the two teams met at Galen Center in 2009 and won, 3-0, in Irvine, Calif., in 2010.
SCOUTING CAL STATE FULLERTON: The Titans (7-3) held a six-match winning streak and have won seven of their last eight matches since dropping the first two of the season. Senior RS Alyse Hensley leads her team in kills (3.12 kps, .223) and service aces (10, 0.29 saps) and is third on the squad in digs with 3.18 dps. Senior OH Bre Moreland is second in kills (2.85 kps, .106) and digs (3.44 dps). Junior setter Julie Consani runs the offense (11.32 aps) and is a defensive anchor with 2.68 dps while freshman libero McKenna Painton leads the way with 4.42 dps. Sophomore MB Holland Crenshaw leads her team with 28 blocks (0.85 bps) and adds 2.00 kps on the offensive end. The Trojans are 22-0 all-time against CSU Fullerton and have dropped just one set in the last 10 matches with the Titans. However, it was in the last meeting that USC surrendered that set on Aug. 28, 2010, at the Galen Center.
TEXAS CONNECT: When freshman OH Ebony Nwanebu (Lucas, Texas) lines up against UC Irvine, she will see a familiar face on the court, but this time, on the other side of the net. Anteater freshman OH Cassidy Pickrell (Coppell, Texas) was a teammate of Nwanebu's on the Texas Advantage Volleyball club that won the junior national championship in June. Nwanebu also faced a pair of former running mates when the Trojans played TCU earlier in the season. Horned Frogs Shane Peters and Regan McGuire were also TAV products.
FRESH AWARDS: Each of USC's freshmen outside hitters has been named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week, this season. Ebony Nwanebu was selected for the first week of the year when she helped carry the Trojans to three big wins at the Mortar Board Premier tournament. She averaged 3.75 kps and 1.12 bps in the victories. Elise Ruddins was chosen for weekly freshman honors for the week of Sept. 9-15 following a breakout weekend in which she had 38 kills (5.43 kps) including 24 against UC Santa Barbara at the USD Tournament. Ruddins logged nine kills in the first set alone against the Gauchos. Nwanebu and Ruddins earned the Trojans' sixth and seventh weekly freshman certificates. Samantha Bricio was named Freshman of the Week five times in 2012.
HALEY CLOSING IN ON 1100: Head coach Mick Haley is just five victories from recording his 1,100th as a women's collegiate head coach. He has 322 with USC, 522 with Texas, and 348 with Kellogg CC.
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. Hagglund was named to a third all-tournament team at the USD Tournament and was joined by freshman OH Elise Ruddins.
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.