No. 10 USC Set for Pac-12/Big Ten Showcase in Seattle|
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2014 Pac-12/Big Ten Showcase
LOS ANGELES - The 10th-ranked Women of Troy (6-2) head to the Pacific Northwest and will seek to return to winning ways in matches against fourth-ranked Wisconsin (8-0) and Maryland (7-2) at the Pac-12/Big Ten Showcase in Seattle, but it won't be easy. When USC takes the court against the Badgers, it will face an undefeated squad that was the NCAA runner-up in 2013.
Hosted by the University of Washington at Alaska Airlines Arena, the Showcase pits perennial powers in pre-conference matches that volleyball fans are used to seeing deep into the NCAA tournament. While the two conferences have dominated the national scene of late, USC's history with Wisconsin and Maryland is short. The Badgers and the Trojans have met just seven times with UW taking the win in four of the those meetings, but the last time the teams met was in a tournament in 2001. The Women of Troy and the Terrapins have had an even longer layoff since their one historical meeting back during the AIAW's national championship tournament in 1976. The Trojans won that head-to-head, 2-0.
All four matches of the Pac-12/Big Ten Showcase will be carried live by the Pac-12 Networks with Krista Blunk and Tammy Blackburn on the call.
USC's next victory will be the 350th for head coach Mick Haley during his time at Troy. He is already the program's winningest head coach (349-78, .817) and can claim over 300 victories at three different schools. While at the helm for Troy, Haley has seen the Trojans to the program's 600th, 700th, 800th, and 900th all-time victories. He is also on the verge of bringing USC its 950th all-time win. The Trojans are currently 946-315-4 (.748).
The Women of Troy return a host of weapons at the disposal of setters Hayley Crone (5.77 aps) and Alice Pizzasegola (5.40 aps). Through eight matches, the team is hitting .271 with 14.00 kills per set. Junior OH Samantha Bricio is a favorite target at the pins and has range out of the back row. She leads the team with 3.37 kps and ranks sixth in the Pac-12 in points (4.52 pps). She leads the conference and is third in the country from the back line with 0.83 aces per set.
A force on the right side, sophomore OH Ebony Nwanebu is averaging 3.00 kps (.305) this season. A pair of freshmen outside hitters has stepped straight into major roles for the Trojans' rotation and help load the court with players that can score at any time. OH Brittany Abercrombie was a Commonwealth Classic all-tournament team selection and puts up 2.17 kps with a .252 hitting rate while OH Lauryn Gillis has started every match for USC and knocks down 2.47 kps (.208) and is third on the team with 2.63 dps.
Defensively, the Trojans have gotten strong production from junior MB Alicia Ogoms who leads the team with 1.14 bps. Ogoms also delivers on the offensive end with 1.52 kps and a .340 hitting percentage. Senior MB Hannah Schraer is averaging 1.33 kps with 0.67 bps. The Women of Troy can also go young in the middle with freshman Jordan Dunn who has posted 1.50 kps to go with a .529 hitting rate this season. In the backcourt, sophomore libero Taylor Whittingham (3.92 dps) anchors the Trojan defense.
LET ME TAKE A #SELFIE: 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.
HI, MOM! I'M ON TV: The Trojans will appear on live television broadcasts in 21 of 30 regular-season matches this season. USC matches at the USC Classic and the Pac-12/Big Ten Showcase, and all but three of the Trojans' conference matches will be carried by the Pac-12 Networks. USC's regular-season finale at UCLA will be broadcast live on ESPNU. In addition, the Trojans appeared on the West Coast Conference's digital network (TheW.tv) in the Community Bankers Volleyball Classic in Stockton, Calif., and on the new SEC Network's digital platform when they played Kentucky in the Commonwealth Classic in Lexington, Ky.
LAST TIME OUT: The Trojans had their six-match winning streak snapped and dropped a pair of rare home contests as hosts of the 2014 USC Classic at Galen Center. In a stunner, USC had to fight it out with a then-unranked Texas A&M team, but fell, 25-23, 15-25, 25-27, 25-13, 16-14, in a five-set heartbreaker. It was a match of ebbs and flows but the Aggies caught the right momentum at the right time and took out the then sixth-ranked Trojans. The following night, USC's task got no easier as a then 10th-ranked Florida squad presented itself. In three tight sets, the Trojans couldn't hang on to their lead down the stretch and fell, 25-23, 25-23, 25-22, to the Gators. Prior to the two SEC teams' victories, only Hawaii had come from another conference and beaten the Trojans in Galen Center. Despite the losses, junior OH Samantha Bricio was selected to the all-tournament team for her performance. It was the third of three all-tournament teams that Bricio has appeared on this season.
EVERGREEN STRUGGLES: The Pacific Northwest has been less than friendly to the Trojans of late. USC dropped both of its matches in the state of Washington in 2013: a four-set decision to the Huskies, and a five-set upset to the Cougars in which the fifth went to 21-19 before WSU sealed the deal. In fact, the Women of Troy have not won in the state since a 3-0 sweep of the Cougars on Sept. 30, 2012. In its last 10 matches in the Evergreen State, USC is 4-6. This year in particular, the Trojans hope to find success in the Pacific Northwest and have hopes of returning to Seattle for a third time this season in mid-December as Alaska Airlines Arena will serve as one of four sites for the NCAA's regional championships.