No. 6 Trojans Storm Desert in Hopes of Extending Streak|
Oct. 31, 2012
LOS ANGELES - The sixth-ranked Women of Troy will take their show on the road with a five-match winning streak in hand. The USC women's volleyball team has to play its next four matches away from home and will conclude the season with six of its final eight as the visiting team.
The Trojans will look to extend on the second-longest winning streak of the season as it heads to the desert for a pair of bouts against Arizona State and Arizona. Both will be carried live on the Pac-12 Networks. A fifth-ranked USC suffered a stunning four-set loss to the Sun Devils in 2010 that snapped a 28-match winning streak that dated back to 1995. Since that loss, the Trojans have won the last four and look to push that run to five.
With a day's break between the two matches, the Trojans will go from Pacific Time to Mountain Time before it faces Arizona in its third Sunday-morning matinee of the season. USC is 2-0 in other Pac-12 matches that have been early on Sunday.
USC will look to hitters Samantha Bricio, Sara Shaw, and Katie Fuller, for offense. Bricio earned 30 kills in the Trojans' five-set win over the Huskies. Junior libero Natalie Hagglund took home her second Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award after she logged a career-high 34 digs against Washington, and sophomore setter Hayley Crone continues to set the pace for the team's success on the court.
WEEKEND RECAP (UW/WSU): The Trojans extended their win streak to five matches with a pair of wins over the weekend; 3-2 over No. 5 Washington and 3-0 against Washington State. In a defensive struggle for the ages, USC overcame the Husky block to emerge with a hard-fought five-set win powered by freshman OH Samantha Bricio's career-high 30 kills (74att). Bricio posted a double-double with 12 digs while junior libero Natalie Hagglund outdid everyone on defense with a career-best 34 digs. One night later, the Trojans showed no signs of slowing as they dispatched of Washington State in three sets behind a career night from junior OH Sara Shawwho had 18 kills (0e) on 28 swings to post a .643 hitting percentage. Hagglund, again, came through with 20 digs to lead all players and was named the Pac-12's Defensive Player of the Week.
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE: The Sun Devils will play their third home match in their last nine outings when USC and Arizona State take the court on Friday evening. Arizona State was winless in conference road matches until it earned a 16-14 fifth-set win over California on Oct. 28. Since opening league play with a 2-1 mark, the Devils have gone just 2-7 and have gotten those wins against Cal and Oregon State. Though ASU has struggled, it is capable of putting on some strong offensive showings with the likes of freshman OH Macey Gardner (4.71 kps) and senior OH Erica Wilson (4.24 kps) at the pins. Gardner tops all conference players while Wilson ranks fifth. Arizona State is the only team with two players in the top 10 of the league in kills. Freshman setter Allison Palmer ranks second in assists (11.43 aps) while junior libero Stephanie Preach is third in digs (4.59 dps). The Trojans have won the last four meetings against the Devils and are 9-1 in the last 10 meetings including a four-set win at Galen Center the last time the two teams met on Oct. 7.
SCOUTING ARIZONA: The Wildcats were swept in both of their matches in the Bay Area last weekend, but were 3-1 in the previous four. Like ASU, Arizona has been away from home for six of its last eight matches. The Cats are just 2-4 in home league matches and earned that pair of wins against Arizona State in the conference opener and in four sets against Oregon State on Oct. 21. Arizona's offense is led by sophomore outside hitter Madi Kingdon who puts up 4.20 kps to rank sixth in the Pac-12. The Cats also get 2.94 kps out of sophomore outside Taylor Arizobal and 2.24 kps from freshman middle Halli Amaro. Junior setter Chanel Brown is 10th in the Pac-12 for assists (7.20 aps) and leads the team with 24 aces (fifth in the Pac-12 with a 0.30 saps average). Junior libero Candace Nicholson is fifth in the conference in digs with 4.15 dps. USC cruised to a three-set win on Oct. 5 when these two teams met the first time (25-17, 25-16, 25-21). The Trojans own a six-match win streak and are 57-18 in all-time meetings against Arizona.
900: USC'S 3-0 win over Colorado on Sunday, Oct. 21, was the program's 900th all-time victory. The Women of Troy are now 902-304-4 in 36 seasons. Head coach Mick Haley has been on USC's bench for its 600th, 700th, 800th, and now 900th wins.
DIGGIN' THE SCENE: For the second time, this season (and in her career), junior libero Natalie Hagglund was selected as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 29. She had 54 digs in eight sets and amassed a career-high 34 digs in a five-set win against Washington on Oct. 26. She was also named Player of the Week on Oct. 8 after she accounted for 49 digs in just seven sets of play as USC took out Arizona and Arizona State. The All-American libero averaged 7.00 dps on the weekend. Both awards are her first such honors and made her the first USC libero to win Player of the Week honors since Debora Seilhamer was selected on Oct. 24, 2005.
BRICIO CONNECTS FOUR: Freshman OH Samantha Bricio became the first-ever USC player to be named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week when she was selected following her performance at the Texas A&M Invitational. She has since gone on to win the award three more times. Bricio had a coming-out party in College Station, Texas, when she helped the Women of Troy to a 3-0 record to open the season and was named the tournament MVP. One week later, she was selected for the award again after she helped the Trojans to a 3-0 weekend at the Luxe City Center Trojan Invitational where she was also honored as an all-tournament team selection. Following a pair of stellar performances against Arizona and Arizona State, Bricio received her third Freshman of the Week nod on Oct. 8, and was selected as the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week and the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week (Oct. 9). Most recently, Bricio received the Freshman of the Week award (Oct. 22) after a weekend in which she served 11 aces in six sets.
ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS: Three Benjamins to be exact. Head coach Mick Haley earned his 300th win at USC when the Trojans defeated Arizona State in four sets on Oct. 7. He is 305-67 in 12 seasons with the Trojans for a .820 winning percentage. He now needs just 6 more wins to eclipse the program's winningest coach Chuck Erbe who logged a 310-121-4 record in 12 seasons as USC's head coach from 1976-77 and 1979-88. Haley's 300th win with Troy gives him at least 300 wins at three different schools: Kellogg Community College, Texas, and USC. 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.
WINNING FORMULA: The Trojans' win over California of Oct. 12 guaranteed the 22nd consecutive winning season for the program. USC's 22 straight winning seasons is tied for 10th best all-time in NCAA history. It is also tied for ninth-best among active streaks. USC's five-set win over Washington on Oct. 26 secured the 10th 20-win season under head coach Mick Haley; the program's 29th time in 37 years.