No. 9 USC Hosts No. 20 UCLA in Crosstown Showdown|
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LOS ANGELES – The No. 9 USC women’s volleyball team (7-3) opens its Pac-12 schedule as host to crosstown rival UCLA on Tuesday, Sept. 23, at the Galen Center. The 20th-ranked Bruins and the Women of Troy will do battle at 8 p.m. PT on the Pac-12 Networks with Jim Watson and Amy Gant on the broadcast.
The Trojans are 10-3 in conference openers under the guidance of head coach Mick Haley. During that time, USC has started its Pac-12 schedule against UCLA seven times and holds a 6-1 record in head-to-head conference openers against the Bruins. Overall, the Trojans lead the all-time series, 54-46, and are 21-18 in home matches. USC also owns a 5-2 edge over UCLA in all meetings at the Galen Center.
Coming off a 3-0 victory over Maryland, the Women of Troy hope to generate some momentum as conference play begins. The win over the Terrapins was the 350th at USC for Haley. He is already the program’s winningest head coach (350-79, .816) and has claimed 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 947-316-4 (.747).
Outside of the lines and numbers, bragging rights are always on the line when USC and UCLA meet in any sport. The famous crosstown rivalry winner will be awarded the SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup sponsored by the Southern California BMW Centers for the first time this year. What used to be The Lexus Gauntlet will operate the same way, with the athletic department that earns the most points in head-to-head competition in all sports during the 2014-15 season declared the winner. For more information and updated standings as the season progresses, visit www.bmwcrosstowncup.com.
The Women of Troy return a host of weapons at the disposal of setters Hayley Crone (5.68 aps) and Alice Pizzasegola (5.03 aps). Through 10 matches, the team is hitting .262 with 13.54 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 3.16 kps and ranks sixth in the Pac-12 in points (4.45 pps). Bricio is also a force from the back line. In 37 sets, she has racked up 37 service aces this season, to lead the Pac-12 and rank second in the country with 1.00 saps. With 165 aces, she sits in second all-time for career aces at USC and needs just six more to overtake the all-time mark. She is also in a fourth-place tie in Pac-12 history.
A force on the right side, sophomore OH Ebony Nwanebu is averaging 2.92 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 2.12 kps with a .258 hitting rate while OH Lauryn Gillis has started every match for USC and knocks down 2.54 kps (.199) and is third on the team with 2.46 dps.
Defensively, the Trojans have gotten strong production from junior MB Alicia Ogoms who leads the team with 0.97 bps. Ogoms also delivers on the offensive end with 1.46 kps and a .345 hitting percentage. Senior MB Hannah Schraer is averaging 1.21 kps with 0.67 bps. The Women of Troy can also go young in the middle with freshman Jordan Dunn who has posted 1.38 kps to go with a .481 hitting rate this season. In the backcourt, sophomore libero Taylor Whittingham (3.91 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 split matches at the Pac-12/Big Ten Showcase in Seattle, Wash. USC fell in a hard-fought 3-1 loss to No. 4 Wisconsin (21-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-21) but turned around to earn a 3-0 sweep of Maryland (25-14, 25-15, 25-21). The win over the Terrapins was the 350th for head coach Mick Haley during his time at USC. It also snapped a three-match skid for the Women of Troy. Sophomore OH Ebony Nwanebu and junior OH Samantha Bricio were each named to the all-tournament team. Bricio was unconscionable from the service line as she climbed through the USC and Pac-12 record books. When the dust had settled, she had six aces in each match (12 for the weekend) and moved into sole possession of second place in Trojan history (ahead of April Ross) and into a fourth-place tie in Pac-12 history for career aces with 165.