No. 4 USC Faces No. 3 Washington For Pac-12 Lead
Oct. 26, 2013
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LOS ANGELES - First place in the Pac-12 will be on the line when the fourth-ranked USC women’s volleyball team (18-2, 8-1 Pac-12) and No. 3 Washington (16-1, 8-1) meet at Galen Center for a Sunday-evening showdown (Oct. 27) at 5 p.m. PT on the Pac-12 Networks. The national broadcast will have Anne Marie Anderson (play-by-play) and Holly McPeak (analyst) on the call.
The Women of Troy have won 16 consecutive matches at the Galen Center dating back to Oct. 5, 2012 and captured the program’s 100th victory in the building with its 3-0 defeat of Washington State on Friday. Though the Trojans have won five of their last seven meetings with the Huskies, UW lays claim to being just one of five teams to have ever beaten USC in the Galen Center.
One thing is certain. When the Trojans and Huskies meet on the court, it is almost always a tough-fought battle. Six of the last 10 USC-UW matches have gone five sets including the Trojans’ 3-2 win last season (Oct. 26, 2012). The Women of Troy are 21-6 all-time as hosts of the Huskies and own a 38-19 edge in the overall series.
The Trojans’ match with Washington signifies the completion of the first half of the Pac-12 schedule. A win would put this USC squad in a league with the 2011 Women of Troy who were 11-1 (22-match schedule) at the halfway point of league play. That 2011 team went on to finish with a 20-2 conference record to claim the first-ever Pac-12 title.
USC will observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month with its match on Sunday as it has been designated the team’s PINK match. Players will warm up in pink jerseys and special pink game balls will be used. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a special pink mini ball courtesy of Baden.
The Women of Troy lean on senior All-American libero Natalie Hagglund who leads the Pac-12 with 4.85 dps (2,036 career digs). She is just the second player in school history to cross the 2,000-career dig plateau and is set to threaten the school-record of 2,071 digs held by Debora Seilhamer (2003-06). Hagglund recently moved into eighth in Pac-12 career history and has her eyes set on shattering more records in the weeks to come. Last year, in a home weekend against WSU and UW, Hagglund dug up 54 balls (6.75 dps) as the Trojans went 2-0. She had 34 in the win over the Huskies.
Offensively, USC’s weaponry is spread evenly across its six hitters. Sophomore OH Samantha Bricio carries the load as she puts up 3.28 kps and is the national leader for service aces (53) at 0.79 saps. Clocked at over 50 miles per hour, Bricio has had nine matches, this season, in which she has posted three service aces, or more, and ranks eighth in the Pac-12 at 4.40 points per set.
Freshman OH Ebony Nwanebu is second on the team with 3.14 kps (.326) and also ranks third with 0.88 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. At the other outside position, senior OH Sara Shaw is recording 2.02 kps and is second on the team with 2.62 dps. Junior OH Emily Young has become a steady force for the Trojans with 1.56 kps and is a threat on second contact as a former setter.
Defensively, senior MB Alexis Olgard leads the team with 1.20 bps and is also a major offensive threat at 2.18 kps with a .470 hitting percentage that ranks second in the conference and seventh in the country. Junior MB Hannah Schraer is just a shade behind with 1.13 bps and puts up 1.48 kps. At the heart of the USC offense, setters Hayley Crone (6.31 aps) and Alice Pizzasegola (5.54 aps) run the show and have the Trojans hitting .290 this season.
SCOUTING WASHINGTON: The Huskies (16-1, 8-1 Pac-12) have won six straight matches since being stunned by Colorado on Oct. 4. Ranked No. 1 at the time, Washington suffered its only loss of the season in four sets in Boulder, Colo. The Huskies are coming off a four-set win over UCLA but prior to that, they were pushed to the brink in a five-set victory over Stanford, in Seattle. Washington leans on junior OH Krista Vansant who puts up 3.97 kps (6th in the Pac-12) and is second on the team with 2.53 dps. Senior libero Jenna Orlandini ranks seventh in the conference at 4.03 digs per set. The Huskies are the league’s top serving team with 117 service aces (1.92 saps). Four players rank in the conference’s top 10 for aces including sophomore OH Cassie Strickland (0.41 saps, 2nd), Orlandini (0.38 saps, 4th), Vansant (0.33 saps, 7th), and senior setter Jenni Nogueras (0.31 saps, 10th). Sophomore MB Melanie Wade leads the team with a .376 hitting percentage (4th Pac-12) while sophomore MB Lianna Sybeldon ranks fifth in the Pac-12 for blocks (1.20 bps). The Huskies run a 6-2 system with Nogueras (6.36 aps) and sophomore Katy Beals (5.18 aps).
THE MATCHUP: The Trojans and the Huskies will meet for the 58th time. USC holds a 38-19 edge in the all-time series and has won five of the last seven meetings including a hard-fought 3-2 win at Galen Center, last season (Oct. 26, 2012). Six of the last 10 Trojan-Husky matchups have gone to five sets. The Women of Troy are 21-6 in home matches against Washington but the Huskies are one of just five teams that have ever beaten USC in the Galen Center. It took five sets, but the Huskies pulled out a Galen Center victory on Oct. 11, 2008.
UW HEAD COACH JIM McLAUGHLIN: Washington head coach Jim McLaughlin is in his 13th season and has compiled a 310-85 record with the Huskies. He is 534-203 in his 24-year career. McLaughlin has guided UW to 11 straight NCAA tournament appearances and helped the Huskies capture the 2005 national crown. He was once the head coach of the USC men’s volleyball team (1990-96) where he compiled a 142-75 record and captured the 1990 NCAA championship.
LAST TIME OUT: The Trojans rebounded from their first conference loss with a 3-0 win over Washington State. It was the program’s 100th in Galen Center as sophomore OH Samantha Bricio (15.5 points) led the way with her fourth double-double of the season (15th of her career) on 12 kills (.321) and 12 digs. She also added three service aces (53 this season) to move into a fourth-place tie in the Trojans’ single-season record books. Senior libero Natalie Hagglund helped stop the WSU attack as she led the way with 19 digs. Freshman OH Ebony Nwanebu had 11 kills (.385) and senior MB Alexis Olgard had eight kills (.889).
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 332 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 2,036, 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 0.79 saps average. After leading the conference (43, 0.36 saps) in 2012, she has already surpassed her freshman mark with 53 in 2013. The 53 aces in a single season ties for fourth 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 96 in her career.