No. 5 USC Looks to Start New Streak as Arizonas Visit
Oct. 2, 2012
LOS ANGELES - The fifth-ranked Women of Troy look to start a new winning streak when Arizona and Arizona State visit Galen Center for a pair of matches, this weekend. USC snapped a short two-match skid with a 3-0 win against Washington State on Sunday and looks to maintain its winning ways as the second half of the regular season opens up.
The last time the Trojans lost two straight matches, they bounced back to win 16 of their next 17. After a long four-day trip to the Pacific Northwest, USC is due for some home cooking. The Trojans are 7-1 in matches at the Galen Center, this season, and have experienced much recent success against the Wildcats and Sun Devils.
As the home team, USC is a combined 58-9 in all-time matches against Arizona and Arizona State. The Trojans will need to be prepared for all situations however as a slumping Wildcat crew looks to snap a three-match losing streak and a hot Sun Devil squad brings its high-octane offense to the lights of Hollywood.
Since Pac-12 play began, senior opposite hitter Katie Fuller and freshman outside hitter Samantha Bricio have shouldered the offensive load for the Trojans. Each of USC's pin hitters averages 4.00 kps in four matches. Junior outside hitter Sara Shaw had a solid road trip and is one of the steadying factors in USC's success, and junior libero Natalie Hagglund continues to carry the pulse of the squad.
SCOUTING ARIZONA: The Wildcats (9-6, 1-3 Pac-12) went 8-3 in pre-conference tournaments and won their conference opener against rival Arizona State, but have since dropped three straight four-set matches in Pac-12 play; all at home. Arizona is led by sophomore outside hitter Madi Kingdon who ranks third in the Pac-12 with 4.43 kps. Kingdon is second on the team in digs with 2.75 dps while junior libero Candice Nicholson ranks third in the conference in digs with 4.30 dps. The Wildcats also get a healthy offensive contribution from sophomore outside hitter Taylor Arizobal who puts down 3.19 kills per set. Arizobal and sophomore libero Ronni Lewis share team-high honors with 12 service aces, each. The Trojans have won eight of their last 10 meetings with the Wildcats and are on a five-match winning streak. USC is also 29-5 in home matches with Arizona and has earned victories in each of the last 10 meetings. The last time the two teams met, USC claimed a three-set win (25-14, 25-18, 25-21) at home on Nov. 19, 2011.
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE: The Sun Devils (13-4, 2-2 Pac-12) boast a potent offensive attack led by two-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week Macey Gardner. The outside hitter leads the conference in kills (5.05 kps) and points (5.41 pps) and ranks second on the team with 2.42 dps. The Devils have won seven of their last nine matches but are coming off a four-set loss to a seventh-ranked Stanford squad (29-27, 25-17, 26-28, 25-23). Arizona State has had two separate winning streaks of five matches, or more, this season. ASU's offense also leans heavily on senior outside hitter Erica Wilson who averages 4.26 kps (fourth in the Pac-12) and leads the league in service aces with 26 (0.40 saps). Junior libero Stephanie Preach ranks second in the conference for digs with 4.63 dps, and freshman setter Allison Palmer is second in conference with 12.00 aps. The Trojans are 9-1 in the last 10 meetings with ASU and currently holds the streak with four in a row. USC won in four sets, 25-17, 19-25, 25-20, 25-12, the last time the two teams met on Nov. 18, 2011, at the Galen Center.
MATCH RECAP (WASHINGTON STATE): The Trojans ended a two-match skid by defeating Washington State in a three-set sweep (26-24, 25-18, 25-20) in the Palouse. USC bounced back from a stunning 3-0 sweep at the hands of a fifth-ranked Washington squad to regain the winning track led by freshman outside hitter Samantha Bricio who had 15 kills to lead all players. Senior opposite hitter Katie Fuller had 10 kills for the Trojans who matched a season-best performance with 11.0 team blocks. In a homecoming match of sorts, junior middle blocker Alexis Olgard logged six kills to go with six blocks; three of the solo variety, which tied a personal best. Olgard attended Mead High School in nearby Spokane, Wash.
TROJANS SET TO HONOR OLYMPIANS: USC will raise a banner to honor two-time Olympic silver medalist and two-time NCAA champion Nicole Davis when the Trojans face Arizona on Friday (Oct. 5). Davis will also be on hand post-match to sign autographs. When USC hosts Arizona State on Sunday (Oct. 7), the Trojans will raise banners for Jennifer Kessy and April Ross for their accomplishments in Olympic Beach Volleyball. The duo captured silver medals in their first Olympic tour. Sunday's match is also Dads and Daughters Night where $25 at the box office will receive admission for two, and a special apron for fathers and a canvas tote bag for daughters.
CLASS ACT: Senior opposite hitter Katie Fuller is one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School ®, the award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make positive impacts as leaders in their communities. To be eligible, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. The candidate class will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot that will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate.
ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS: Three Benjamins to be exact. Head coach Mick Haley is two wins from earning his 300th at USC. He is 298-66 in 12 seasons with the Trojans for a .819 winning percentage. In nine of his 11 completed seasons, Haley has guided the team to at least 20 wins and has never missed the NCAA tournament during his time on campus.