No. 8 USC Looks to Conquer Mountains
Nov. 5, 2012
LOS ANGELES - The eighth-ranked Women of Troy can start a new winning streak as they tap the Rocky Mountains for two matches, this weekend. USC had its five-match streak stopped by a hot Arizona State team but bounced back to earn a four-set win against Arizona, last Sunday.
Now, the pressure is on as the Pac-12 season winds down. With only six matches remaining on the regular-season schedule, the Trojans will need to make every rally count if they are to make a move in the conference standings. Currently tied with Washington and UCLA for third place, USC heads into matches with a suddenly dangerous Utah squad and a Colorado team that can still make a case for postseason selection.
The last time USC hosted the Utes and the Buffaloes, it needed just six sets to earn a pair of wins, but the Trojans will have to prove their mettle as road warriors in the third and fourth of four straight bouts away from home.
Regardless of venue, the Trojans will bring plenty of firepower. Freshman outside hitter Samantha Bricio ranks fifth in the conference in production with 4.76 points per set while junior outside Sara Shaw has come on strong of late and averages 2.92 kps this season. Junior libero Natalie Hagglund continues to push her numbers and is second in the league for digs with 4.90 dps.
WEEKEND RECAP (ASU/ARIZONA): The Trojans had their five-match winning streak snapped in a stunning 3-0 sweep at the hands of Arizona State (25-21, 26-24, 25-23). It was just the second time in 35 meetings that the Sun Devils had defeated USC. In defeat, the Trojans were led by freshman outside Samantha Bricio who had 14 kills while junior libero Natalie Hagglund put up 23 digs. USC out-dug ASU, 61-59, in a defensive battle and outhit the Devils, .178-.168, but inopportune errors and smart play by Arizona State delivered the victory. The Trojans didn't stay down long as they bounced back for a 3-1 win at Arizona (25-22, 23-25, 25-20, 25-23). USC weathered the Wildcat storm which saw outside Madi Kingdon score 18 kills to go with 19 digs and emerged with a win behind Bricio's eighth double-double outing of the year as she had 18 kills and 10 digs. Sophomore setter Hayley Crone had her 10th double-double of the season with 44 assists and 10 digs while junior outside Sara Shawadded 12 kills and seven digs.
SCOUTING UTAH: The Utes have lost three straight and are 1-3 since they last faced USC at Galen Center, but Utah put up a big fight in the Pacific Northwest last weekend as it went five sets each with Washington State and No. 8 Washington. The Utes suffered a 16-14 loss against the Cougars and fell, 15-11, against the Huskies in consecutive fifth sets. Utah has played six five-set matches, this season, and won just two; once against Utah State and once against Bowling Green. The Utes are one of the best blocking teams in the league with 3.04 bps to rank second in the Pac-12. Middle blocker Bailey Bateman ranks third in the league with 1.54 bps and adds 1.71 kills per set when on offense. Outside hitter Chelsey Schofield leads the team in kills with 3.21 kps with outside Morgan Odale just behind her with 2.76 kps. Odale also leads the team with 31 service aces (third in the Pac-12). The last time the two teams met, USC claimed a 3-0 win at Galen Center (25-14, 25-14, 25-22); its seventh straight. The Trojans are 10-1 in 11 all-time meetings with the Utes.
SCOUTING COLORADO: The Buffaloes are 1-6 in their last seven matches including a 3-0 sweep at Galen Center the last time they faced the Trojans on Oct. 21. Colorado was swept, twice, in road matches at Washington State and No. 8 Washington last week. Freshman setter Nicole Edelman ranks eighth in the conference in assists (9.09 aps) and is 10th in service aces with 0.28 saps. Edelman also does her part at the net with 0.68 bps. On offense, her favorite target has been fellow frosh middle Alexis Austin who leads the team with 3.06 kps. The Buffaloes have five players that average close to two kills per set or more. Junior middle blocker Nikki Lindow puts up 2.00 kps and is the team leader in blocks with 1.31 bps (seventh in the Pac-12). Colorado also has three players who average more than two digs per set for a well-balanced offense and defense. The last time CU and USC met, the Trojans won, 25-16, 25-19, 25-18, for their sixth victory in six all-time meetings.
NOT NICE WITH THE NEWCOMERS: The Trojans are a combined 16-1 in all-time matches against Utah and Colorado; the Pac-12's two newest members. USC is 10-1 against the Utes and 6-0 against the Buffaloes. The only loss was a five-set defeat suffered against Utah in 1986. Since then, the Trojans have won seven straight over the Utes.
900: USC'S 3-0 win over Colorado (Oct. 21), was the program's 900th all-time victory. The Women of Troy are now 903-305-4 in 36 seasons. Head coach Mick Haley has been on USC's bench for its 600th, 700th, 800th, and now 900th wins.
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 306-68 in 12 seasons with the Trojans for a .818 winning percentage. He now needs just five 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 Cal on Oct. 12 guaranteed the 22nd consecutive winning season for the program; 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.