Short Week Pits No. 4 USC Against No. 6 Stanford
Oct. 29, 2013
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LOS ANGELES - There’s no rest for the weary as the fourth-ranked USC women’s volleyball team (18-3, 8-2 Pac-12) must regroup following a tough loss, travel to the Bay Area, and face No. 6 Stanford (15-4, 8-2) in a midweek matchup at Maples Pavilion on Wednesday (Oct. 30). The Trojans will be less than three days removed from their last match when they take the court against the defending conference champions to open the back half of the Pac-12 schedule.
In five of the last six seasons, head coach Mick Haley has made the correct adjustments in the second half of the conference schedule to help the Trojans post better second-half records. Over the course of his 12 seasons at USC, his team has posted the same record in both halves of league matches six times. While Haley puts a premium on in-season improvements, only once has one of his Trojan squads fared worse in the second part of league matches. That, however, was in 2002 when USC went on to win the first of two back-to-back NCAA titles.
The Women of Troy suffered a 3-1 setback to No. 3 Washington on Sunday night but can right the ship with a pair of road wins in Northern California. It won’t be easy however as the Trojans head into the belly of the beast to try to knock off the Cardinal. Stanford is 8-0 at home, this season, and hasn’t lost in Maples since December of 2011. USC has won just five times on the road against the Cardinal and was last able to come away from The Farm with a victory in 2006; a 3-0 sweep.
Despite having the odds stacked against them, the Trojans have fought through tough scheduling before and have won four of the last six meetings with the Cardinal. Stanford has, however, claimed 3-0 home sweeps over USC in each of the last three seasons. The Women of Troy were last able to claim a set in Maples Pavilion in 2009 though they fell, 3-1.
The Women of Troy lean on senior All-American libero Natalie Hagglund who leads the Pac-12 with 4.90 dps (2,059 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 seventh in Pac-12 career history and has her eyes set on shattering more records in the weeks to come. With 13 digs, she could move as high as fifth in conference history in her next match.
Offensively, USC’s weaponry is spread evenly across its six hitters. Sophomore OH Samantha Bricio carries the load WITH 3.32 kps and is secondi n the country for service aces (54) at 0.76 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 4.39 points per set.
Freshman OH Ebony Nwanebu is second on the team with 3.09 kps (.322) and also ranks third with 0.85 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 2.10 kps and is second on the team with 2.67 dps. Junior OH Emily Young has become a steady force for the Trojans with 1.49 kps and is a threat on second contact as a former setter. Freshman OH Elise Ruddins has also proven to be a viable offensive option for the Trojans (2.76 kps) and had a match with 24 kills earlier this season.
Defensively, senior MB Alexis Olgard leads the team with 1.16 bps and is also a major offensive threat at 2.23 kps with a .467 hitting percentage that ranks second in the conference and fourth in the country. Junior MB Hannah Schraer is just a shade behind with 1.12 bps and puts up 1.50 kps. At the heart of the USC offense, setters Hayley Crone (6.35 aps) and Alice Pizzasegola (5.58 aps) run the show and have the Trojans hitting .289 this season.
SCOUTING STANFORD: The Cardinal (15-4, 8-2 Pac-12) has dropped two matches in conference play. Stanford was swept by USC at Galen Center (Oct. 4) and was edged in five sets by Washington in Seattle (Oct. 20). Stanford is in the midst of a four-match home stand which started with two 3-0 wins over No. 20 Oregon and Oregon State last weekend and is 8-0 in Maples Pavilion, this season. The Cardinal last lost a home match in December of 2011. Stanford leads the nation in blocking (3.04 bps) and is third in hitting percentage (.323). It also leads the Pac-12 in those categories and is first in kills (14.63 kps), and second in assists (13.73 aps). Stanford has a pair of dominant middle blockers who do plenty of damage. Senior MB Carly Wopat is third in the nation in hitting percentage (.484, 3.00 kps) and second in the Pac-12 in blocks (1.42 bps). Sophomore MB Inky Ajanaku is third in the league in hitting (.414) and in blocks (1.40 bps). Wopat also ranks ninth in points in the Pac-12 at 4.03 pps. Sophomore setter Madi Bugg ranks 11th in the country in assists (11.57 aps, 2nd in Pac-12) and is sixth in the Pac-12 for service aces (0.33 saps). Junior libero Kyle Gilbert is second in the Pac-12 in digs (4.75 dps). All told, the Cardinal exhibits great balance on both sides of the ball. Sophomore OH Brittany Howard puts up 2.87 kps and 2.50 dps while sophomore OH Jordan Burgess gets 2.59 kps and 2.41 dps. Senior OH Rachel Williams nabs 2.80 kps and 2.48 dps.
THE MATCHUP: USC and the Cardinal will meet for the 83rd time. Stanford is the only team in the Pac-12 that holds a winning record over the Trojans and leads, 57-24-1 all-time. USC has won each of the last two and has taken four of the last six meetings including a 3-0 sweep on Oct. 4 at Galen Center.
STANFORD HEAD COACH JOHN DUNNING: Stanford head coach John Dunning is in his 13th season with the Cardinal. He holds a 356-65 (.847) mark on The Farm and is 793-167 over the course of his career. A member of the AVCA Hall of Fame (2011), Dunning has guided the Cardinal to two NCAA titles and seven conference crowns in his 12 seasons at the helm.
LAST TIME OUT: The Trojans had their 16-match home winning streak snapped in a four-set loss to No. 3 Washington. It was the last match of the first-half of Pac-12 play for both teams and propelled the Huskies into first place as USC fell into a second-place tie with Stanford. Five Trojans reached double digits in points including Samantha Bricio who led with 17.0 on 16 kills and a service ace. Bricio added 15 digs to post her fifth double-double of the year. Sara Shaw tallied 14 kills and 14 digs for her fourth double-double while Natalie Hagglund led all players with 23 digs. Alexis Olgard added 12 kills (.429) but the Huskies distanced themselves and became the second team to out-hit USC this season for the win.
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.
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 2,059, 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 is second in the NCAA in service aces with a remarkable 0.76 saps average. After leading the conference (43, 0.36 saps) in 2012, she has already surpassed her freshman mark with 54 in 2013. The 54 aces in a single season is 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. The Pac-12 record for single-season average is 0.80 saps held by Arizona’s Kiyomi Morino (1987). In just two years, Bricio has broken into the Trojan top 10 for career aces and is in a 10th-place tie with Christina Brigman (1987-89) with 97.