No. 1 USC Seeks Desert Sweep on Sunday
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Oct. 19, 2013
TUCSON, Ariz. - The No. 1-ranked Trojans (17-1, 7-0 Pac-12) are looking for their 12th-straight victory as they pay a visit to McKale Center to face Arizona (14-5, 4-3) in a Sunday-afternoon matinee (2:30 p.m. on Oct. 20) on the Pac-12 Networks with Krista Blunk and Kelli Tennant on the broadcast.
USC passed its first test of the weekend to claim its fourth straight road victory in a 3-0 sweep of No. 22 Arizona State. The Trojans improved to 86-7 (.925) in all-time matches as the No. 1-ranked team and moved to 13-0 when facing either ASU or Arizona with that ranking.
The Women of Troy roll into Tucson as holders of a seven-match winning streak over the Wildcats and have won eight of the last nine meetings. The last time Arizona was able to defeat USC was in 2009. The win was the second of back-to-back home victories for the Cats who haven't beaten the Trojans since.
The Trojans approach a couple of historic marks as they prepare to face the Wildcats. USC's 7-0 record in conference matches is its best since the 2003 team went undefeated (18-0) to win the Pac-10 en route to an NCAA title. A win over the Cats pushes the Trojans' record to 18-1, which would be the program's best mark through 19 matches since that same 2003 squad went undefeated (35-0 overall).
The Women of Troy lean on senior All-American libero Natalie Hagglund who leads the Pac-12 with 4.82 dps (2,005 career digs). She became just the second player in school history to cross the 2,000-career dig plateau in the Trojans' match with the Sun Devils and is set to threaten the school-record of 2,071 digs held by Debora Seilhamer (2003-06).
Offensively, USC's weaponry is spread across its six hitters. Sophomore OH Samantha Bricio carries the load as she puts up 3.23 kps and is the national leader for service aces (49) at 0.80 saps. Clocked at over 50 miles per hour, Bricio has had eight matches, this season, in which she has posted three service aces, or more, and ranks seventh in the Pac-12 at 4.39 points per set.
Freshman OH Ebony Nwanebu is third on the team with 3.09 kps and also ranks third with 0.91 blocks per set. Nwanebu has been nothing short of impressive and has caught the eye of the conference with four Pac-12 Freshman of the Week awards in six weeks. At the other outside position, senior OH Sara Shaw is recording 2.05 kps and is second on the team with 2.59 dps. Junior OH Emily Young has become a steady force for the Trojans with 1.59 kps and is a threat on second contact as a former setter.
Defensively, senior MB Alexis Olgard leads the team with 1.27 bps and is also an offensive threat at 2.08 kps with a .458 hitting percentage that ranks second in the conference and seventh in the country. Junior MB Hannah Schraer is just a shade behind with 1.19 bps and puts up 1.46 kps.
At the heart of the USC offense, setters Hayley Crone (6.18 aps) and Alice Pizzasegola (5.42 aps) run the show. Head coach Mick Haley recently reached the 1,100-win plateau as a women's head coach and broke the 1,200-win mark (including wins as a men's head coach) with USC's sweep of Oregon.
SCOUTING ARIZONA: The Wildcats (14-5, 4-3 Pac-12) have won four of their last five matches and are coming off a 3-0 sweep of UCLA. Arizona has defended its home court effectively this season and dropped just one decision to a 20th-ranked Kansas team on Aug. 31. Since that loss, the Cats have reeled off nine straight wins at McKale Center including three in Pac-12 play. Arizona leads the league in digs (17.04 dps) and is fourth in blocks (2.80 bps) to rank second in opponent hitting percentage (.152). Junior outside hitter Madi Kingdon leads the Pac-12 in points (5.26 pps) and is third in kills (4.43 kps). Kingdon leads her team in service aces (22 and 0.33 saps) and ranks ninth in the conference. Kingdon is also a defensive leader at second on the team with 3.13 dps. Sophomore MB Halli Amaro is the Wildcats' defensive cornerstone with 1.22 bps and tacks on 1.55 kps. Fellow sophomore MB Olivia Magill is not too far off with 1.13 bps and 1.93 kps. Hawai'i junior transfer OH Jane Croson ranks second on the team with 3.16 kps and is third on the team with 2.58 dps. Senior libero Candace Nicholson is fourth in the league with 4.37 dps and freshman setter Penina Snuka ranks seventh in the conference with 9.96 aps.
THE MATCHUP: The Trojans and the Wildcats will meet for the 77th time. USC owns a 58-18 all-time record against Arizona and has won seven straight. The Cats won home meetings against the Trojans in 2008 and 2009 and last won in four sets on Sept. 25, 2009. The Women of Troy are 22-12 all-time as visitors in Tucson.
HEAD COACH DAVID RUBIO: Arizona head coach David Rubio is in his 22nd season with the Wildcats and has compiled a 409-245 overall record. Rubio has amassed a 531-311 record in 27 seasons as a collegiate head coach. He has led Arizona to 15 NCAA tournament selections including an appearance among the final four in 2001.
LAST TIME OUT: The Trojans upped their season-long winning streak to 11 matches in a sweep of 22nd-ranked Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz. It was ASU's fourth consecutive loss. Senior libero Natalie Hagglund crossed the 2,000-career dig plateau with ten against the Sun Devils. Junior MB Hannah Schraer was unstoppable as she racked up season highs in kills (10) and points (12.0) with a .769 hitting percentage. Sophomore OH Samantha Bricio logged five service aces; the eighth match, this season, in which she has had three or more. She moved into sixth place at USC in single-season aces (49) and within 10 of the program record (59) held by April Ross (2003).
TAP THE APP: The USC women's volleyball program is the first of its kind to release a fully-functional interactive iPad application. The custom built app provides users an inside look at the 2013 Women of Troy and their quest for a seventh national title. The app connects fans and user to player bios, links for live in-match updates, and behind-the-scenes videos that showcase the team's progress through the season. Users can also easily take a look back through the rich history of one of the most elite volleyball programs in the country. It also includes a virtual tour that takes users into the Galen Center and across the USC campus. Download the app through iTunes, today.
HALEY HITS 1100/1200: Head coach Mick Haley recorded his 1,100th win as a women's collegiate head coach on Friday, Oct. 4, as the Trojans defeated Stanford, 3-0, at the Galen Center. He has 331 with USC, 522 with Texas, and 348 with Kellogg CC. He has also reached the 1,200th overall victory of his career including a 97-32 mark with the men's team at Kellogg CC.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF SWEEP: The Trojans went 3-0 in a different way on Oct. 7. USC players swept the Pac-12's weekly awards as senior MB Alexis Olgard was named Offensive Player of the Week, senior libero Natalie Hagglund was named Defensive Player of the Week, and OH Ebony Nwanebu was chosen for Freshman of the Week. It is Olgard's first such award, the fourth of Hagglund's career, and Nwanebu's third. Coincidentally, one year ago (Oct. 8, 2012), USC also swept the conference awards as OH Samantha Bricio earned offensive and freshman awards and Hagglund nabbed the defensive award.
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.
LIKE A BROKEN RECORD: Senior libero Natalie Hagglund is poised to become the program's all-time leader in career digs and the second player ever to reach the 2,000-dig plateau. She has 2,005, and currently sits in second place behind just Debora Seilhamer who logged 2,071 in her prolific career. Hagglund moved into the Pac-12's top 10 career leaders in digs and is ranked ninth. Her 4.72 career dps rank second in program history. Hagglund owns three of the top 10 single-season school records for digs: third (613 in 2012), fourth (596 in 2011), and ninth (497 in 2010 as a freshman). A season ago, Samantha Bricio set the ninth-best single-season mark for kills with 491 and took the second-most attempts in a single season at USC (1,325). Bricio's 43 service aces also tied for seventh most in a single season and her 567.0 points ranks seventh in a season for Troy. Setter Hayley Crone enjoyed the program's eighth-best single year with 1,337 assists while middle blocker Alexis Olgard recorded the ninth-best single-season hitting percentage at .394.
ACE IN THE HOLE: Sophomore OH Samantha Bricio leads the NCAA in service aces with a remarkable 0.80 saps average. After leading the conference (43, 0.36 saps) in 2012, she has already surpassed her freshman mark with 49 in 2013. The 49 aces in a single season is sixth most in school history. USC's single-season record for aces is 59 shared by April Ross (2003) and Nancy Hillman (1988). Ross also holds the Trojan record for highest single-season average with 0.52 saps in 2003, but that mark is in jeopardy as Bricio continues to roll, this season. The Pac-12 record for single-season average is 0.80 saps held by Arizona's Kiyomi Morino (1987). In just two years, Bricio is also on the verge of breaking into the Trojan top 10 for career aces. Christina Brigman ranks 10th with 97 from 1987-89 but Bricio already has 92 in her career.