No. 4 USC Looks to Haunt Haas and No. 22 California
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Oct. 31, 2013
BERKELEY, Calif. - Coming off a thrilling five-set victory over sixth-ranked Stanford, the No. 4 USC women’s volleyball team (19-3, 9-2 Pac-12) has little time to celebrate and must turn around to face No. 22 California (13-6, 6-4) in a Friday-evening bout (Nov. 1) at Haas Pavilion at 6 p.m. PT on the Pac-12 Networks. The Women of Troy seek their first road sweep of the Bay Area schools since 2006 when the Trojans steamrolled their way to a pair of 3-0 sweeps in Northern California.
USC has won all four regular-season meetings against Cal and Stanford just twice in program history; once in 2000 and again in 2003 when the team went undefeated (35-0) on the way to the second of back-to-back NCAA titles.
The Trojans have a tall task before them as the Golden Bears ride a three-match winning streak into the teams’ 63rd all-time meeting. USC owns a five-match winning streak over Cal and has won eight of the last 10 including three in a row at Haas Pavilion. The Trojans are 20-7 all-time at Haas Pavilion (previously Harmon Gym).
Since the arrival of head coach Mick Haley, the Cal-USC rivalry (2001-present) has intensified. The Trojans are 21-5 against the Bears during that time, but nine of the 26 meetings have gone five sets. Prior to 2001, the teams only went the distance three times between 1976 and 2000.
In five of the last six years, USC has adjusted correctly to post better second-half league records. Over the course of Haley’s 12 seasons at USC, his team has posted the same record in both halves of league matches six times. In-season improvements have been a Trojan trademark under Haley and only once has one of his squads fared worse in the second part of league matches. That, however, was in 2002 when USC went on to win the first of back-to-back NCAA titles.
The Women of Troy lean on senior All-American libero Natalie Hagglund who leads the Pac-12 with 5.05 dps. Hagglund is USC’s career leader in digs (2,095), and moved into fifth in Pac-12 history in the Trojans’ win against the Cardinal. She logged a season-high 36 digs (tied for eighth in program history, and her eighth-career 30-dig match) and was recently named a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award.
Offensively, USC’s weaponry is spread evenly across its six hitters. Sophomore OH Samantha Bricio carries part of the load with 3.32 kps and is second in the country for service aces (56) at 0.74 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 4.34 points per set.
Freshman OH Ebony Nwanebu is second on the team with 3.16 kps (.321) 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 2.12 kps and is second on the team with 2.72 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 (2.56 kps) and had a match with 24 kills earlier this season.
Defensively, senior MB Alexis Olgard leads the team with 1.19 bps and cannot be overlooked on the offensive side of the net as she logs 2.28 kps with a league-leading .471 hitting percentage (fourth in the country). Junior MB Hannah Schraer is just a shade behind with 1.09 bps and puts up 1.43 kps. At the heart of the USC offense, setters Hayley Crone (6.34 aps) and Alice Pizzasegola (5.53 aps) run the show and have the Trojans hitting .287 this season.
SCOUTING NO. 22 CALIFORNIA: The Golden Bears (13-6, 6-4 Pac-12) ride a three-match winning streak into their meeting with the Trojans. Cal fell out of the rankings after it opened conference play at 3-4 but has found a groove to claim the last three in a row and re-entered the coaches poll at No. 22, this week. The Bears have had a couple of close calls including a four-set loss at home to Stanford and a narrow five-set loss to USC on the road. However, Cal has also needed five sets to earn each of their last two wins; one of No. 20 Oregon, and the other over Oregon State. Senior OH Adrienne Gehan recently crossed the 1,000-kill mark in her career and ranks third in the Pac-12 at 4.32 kps (second in points: 4.93 pps). She also leads the team with 18 service aces and is second with 3.04 dps. Junior opposite Christina Higgins puts up 3.17 kps (10th Pac-12) while sophomore MH Lara Vukasovic has made a mark this season with 2.48 kps (third on the team) and is fifth in the conference in hitting percentage (.383). Vukasovic also leads the Bears and is seventh in the league with 1.18 bps. Senior setter Joan Caloiaro leads the Pac-12 and is eighth in the nation in assists (11.74 aps). Caloiaro is second on the team with 15 aces. Sophomore MH Lillian Schonewise adds 2.19 kps and is second on the team with 0.94 bps. Freshman libero Maddy Kerr was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week, this week, and is ninth in the conference with 3.54 dps.
THE MATCHUP: The Trojans and the Bears will meet for the 63rd time with USC leading the all-time series, 51-11. The Women of Troy are on a five-match winning streak; the longest since a six-match streak from 2005-08. USC is 8-2 in the last 10 meetings and is 20-7 in road matches against the Bears. Cal last beat the Trojans at home in 2009; the second of back-to-back home wins for the Bears.
CALIFORNIA HEAD COACH RICH FELLER: California head coach Rich Feller is in his 15th season at the helm of the Golden Bear program and is the winningest coach in school history with a 296-158 overall record. He has taken Cal to a school-record 11 straight NCAA tournaments and was named the 2010 National Coach of the Year when the Bears advanced to the national championship match.
LAST TIME OUT: The Trojans pulled out a thrilling 3-2 win over Stanford on The Farm to log the team’s first win at Stanford since 2006. USC swept the regular-season series against Stanford for the first time since 2003 and for just the third time in program history (2000, ’03, ’13). Senior libero Natalie Hagglund put up 36 digs (tied for eighth most all-time in a single match at USC) and became the program’s career leader with 2,095. The Trojans saw four players reach double-digits led by 24.0 from freshman OH Ebony Nwanebu who had 21 kills (.310). Senior MB Alexis Olgard (15 kills, .520) logged eight blocks while sophomore OH Samantha Bricio posted her sixth double-double of the season with 16 kills and a career-high 23 digs. Junior setter Hayley Crone earned a double-double with 38 assists and a season-high 14 digs.
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 333 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 the program’s all-time career leader in digs. As just the second USC player ever to reach the 2,000-dig plateau, she has collected 2,095, to surpass Debora Seilhamer (2003-06) who logged 2,071 in her prolific career. Hagglund is also ranked fifth in Pac-12 history for digs and is posted to make a run at third place before season’s end. 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 0.74 saps average. After leading the conference (43, 0.36 saps) in 2012, she has already surpassed her freshman mark with 56 in 2013. The 56 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 10th place with 99.
CLASS ACT: Senior libero Natalie Hagglund is one of 10 finalists 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.