No. 25 Trojans Return to the Road for Oregon Matchups|
Follow, Like, and Insta with @USCWomensVolley
Nov. 19, 2014
LOS ANGELES - The No. 25 USC women's volleyball team (14-12, 7-9 Pac-12) may be down, but it is not out. Despite suffering back-to-back losses at home last week, the Trojans can still make a run into the postseason by earning valuable victories on the road. The Women of Troy must finish the regular season with four straight road matches including three against teams ranked in the top 20.
It begins on Friday (Nov. 21) with a noon PT bout against Oregon State (17-10, 7-9) at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Ore. Though not carrying a ranking, the Beavers received enough votes to sit in the No. 27 spot in the poll. OSU has won three of five and split road matches in each of the last two weekends. After their match with the Beavers, the Trojans head south to face the 14th-ranked Ducks (19-7, 9-7) in Eugene, Ore., at Matthew Knight Arena, at 11 a.m. PT on Sunday (Nov. 23). The road is treacherous as USC returns home for just one day before it flies out to face a ranked Arizona team next Wednesday (Nov. 26) and then wraps the schedule with a match at UCLA on Nov. 28.
The Trojans' match at Oregon will be carried live by the Pac-12 Networks with Rich Burk and Al Scates on the broadcast. It will be the 21st time that USC appears in a televised match this season.
With just four matches remaining on the regular-season schedule, the Trojans need to win at least one to become eligible for selection into the NCAA tournament. The Women of Troy have appeared in the national postseason tourney 31 times and have earned bids 23 straight times. USC has had the fortune to open each of the last 11 tournaments at home and have done so 20 times since 1992. The task is more difficult this time as the Trojans are No. 20 in the latest NCAA ratings percentage index (RPI) and hold the last spot in the top 25 of the AVCA coaches poll.
In five of the last seven seasons, head coach Mick Haley has helped his Trojans post better second-half records in league matches. Over the course of his 13 completed seasons at USC, Haley's teams have logged at least the same record in both halves of league matches seven times. While he 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. USC has only finished with a .500 mark in conference matches once under Haley (9-9 in 2008) but never below. In fact, none of Haley's teams (including those that he coached at Texas) have ever finished below .500 in conference play.
Despite the return of All-American outside hitters Samantha Bricio and Ebony Nwanebu, the Trojan roster is chock full of inexperience with 11 freshmen and sophomores on the ticket. Sophomore setter Alice Pizzasegola sets the starting rotation for the Trojans and puts up 5.86 aps. Senior OH and setter Emily Young (2.35 aps, 1.20 kps) carries setting duties as she rotates through the front row. With the help of senior setter Hayley Crone through the early part of the season, USC is hitting at a .249 clip (sixth in the Pac-12) through 26 matches with 13.62 kps.
Regardless of who is setting, Bricio is a favorite target. She leads the team and ranks seventh in the league with 4.19 kps. Her range out of the back row extends beyond the end line where she tacks on 0.75 service aces per set to rank first in the conference and second in the entire nation. Bricio ranks third in the Pac-12 for points (5.21 pps) and has racked up 72 service aces this season. With 200 aces, she became both USC's and the Pac-12's all-time career leader in aces this season.
A force on the right side, Nwanebu is averaging 3.13 kps (.229) this season and recorded back-to-back 20-kill matches against Oregon State (.513 hitting without an error) and California. Nwanebu has also begun rotating through the back row and picked up her first three career double-doubles this season. Fellow sophomore OH Elise Ruddins has started the last nine matches to help the Trojans with 1.62 kps (2.00 dps).
Off the bench, a pair of freshmen outside hitters played major roles for the Trojans' rotation early on and could help load the court with players that can score at any time. OH Lauryn Gillis started USC's first 17 matches and collects 2.22 kps (.179). Gillis also ranks fifth on the team with 1.94 dps. OH Brittany Abercrombie has appeared in 30 sets and hits .231 with 1.87 kps.
Defensively, the Trojans have gotten strong production from junior MB Alicia Ogoms who leads the team with 0.98 bps. Ogoms also delivers on the offensive end with 1.52 kps and a .352 hitting percentage which ranks eighth in the Pac-12. The Women of Troy can also go young in the middle with freshman Jordan Dunn who has posted 1.06 kps to go with a .366 hitting rate this season. Senior MB Hannah Schraer scores 1.04 kps (.320) and 0.69 bps for the Trojans. In the backcourt, sophomore libero Taylor Whittingham (4.77 dps) anchors the Trojan defense and ranks second in the Pac-12 for digs.
SCOUTING OREGON STATE: The Beavers (17-10) are tied with USC for seventh in the Pac-12 with a 7-9 league record. Oregon State received enough votes to rank 27th in the latest AVCA poll. The Beavers split road matches on each of the last two weekends and have won three of five. Leading the Beavers in kills is freshman OH Mary-Kate Marshall with 4.19 kps (sixth in the Pac-12). Marshall is a three-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week selection. The Beavers' other threats from the pins are redshirt sophomore OH Katelyn Driscoll and redshirt senior OH Laura Schaudt who each record 2.12 kps and 1.71 kps, respectively. Contributing from the middle are senior middles Amanda Brown (2.12 kps) and Arica Nassar (1.99 kps). Nassar is also third in conference in blocks, collecting 1.29 bps. Leading the Beavers' defense is junior libero Darby Reeder with 4.42 dps (third in the league). Reeder is also third in conference in service aces with 36 (0.35 saps) for the season. Running Oregon State's offense is senior setter Tayla Woods with 978 assists for the season (9.88 aps).
USC-OSU SERIES HISTORY: The Women of Troy own a 48-8 (.857) overall record in their series with the Beavers. USC is 23-5 in matches in Corvallis, Ore., and have beaten the Beavers in 11 consecutive matches overall.
HEAD COACH TARAS LISKEVYCH: Oregon State head coach Taras Liskevych is in his 10th year in Corvallis, Ore. He has a 115-181 record with a .389 winning percentage while at Oregon State. His career record, including nine seasons at Pacific, is 382-265.
SCOUTING OREGON: The 14th-ranked Ducks (19-7) are 9-7 and in a three-way tie for fourth in the Pac-12. Oregon has dropped three of its last five matches, but is 11-3 at home this season. Powering the Ducks' offense are outside hitters junior Martenne Bettendorf (3.36 kps) and senior Liz Brenner (2.94 kps). Oregon's other threats from the pins are freshman OH Frankie Shebby (2.47 kps) and sophomore opposite Naya Crittenden (1.85 kps). Shebby is a two-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week winner. The Ducks get their contributions from the middle attack thanks to senior MB Serena Warner and sophomore MB Kacey Nady, who each record 1.61 kps and 2.03 kps, respectively. Warner is fourth in conference in hitting percentage (.379), and Nady is eighth (.352). Leading the Ducks' defense is sophomore libero Amanda Benson with 415 digs (4.19 dps). Oregon runs a 6-2 offense with setters freshman Maggie Scott (6.64 aps) and senior Shellsy Ashen (5.60 aps).
USC-OREGON SERIES HISTORY: The Women of Troy own a 49-10 overall record in their series with the Ducks. USC is 23-4 when facing Oregon in Eugene, and has not lost there since 2008. The Trojans are 8-2 in their last 10 with the Ducks, with each loss coming at Galen Center (2012 and 2014).
HEAD COACH JIM MOORE: Oregon head coach Jim Moore is in his 10th season with the program. He has a career record of 557-261 with a .681 winning percentage.
LET ME TAKE A #SELFIE: 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.
HI, MOM! I'M ON TV: The Trojans will appear on live television broadcasts in 22 of 30 regular-season matches this season. USC matches at the USC Classic and the Pac-12/Big Ten Showcase, and all but three of the Trojans' conference matches will be carried by the Pac-12 Networks. USC's regular-season finale at UCLA will be broadcast live on ESPNU. In addition, the Trojans appeared on the West Coast Conference's digital network (TheW.tv) in the Community Bankers Volleyball Classic in Stockton, Calif., and on the new SEC Network's digital platform when they played Kentucky in the Commonwealth Classic in Lexington, Ky.
LAST TIME OUT: USC dropped each of its home matches to Stanford (3-0) and California (3-2) last week. The losses meant the Trojans would finish the regular-season's home schedule with a losing record for the first since the Galen Center opened in 2006. It was the first time that the Golden Bears were able to win in the building despite it being the seventh time in nine years that the USC-Cal match has gone to five sets at the Galen Center. Junior OH Samantha Bricio produced her 13th double-double of the season (35th of her career) with 23 kills and 11 digs against the Bear. She also became the Pac-12's all-time career leader for aces as she scored three to reach 200 and surpass Daiva Tomkus of UCLA, who had 198 from 1986-89.
RECORD REACHED: On Friday, Nov. 14, junior OH Samantha Bricio became the Pac-12's all-time career leader for service aces. She served three against California to give her 72 on the season and 200 in her career. Notably, she is the only Pac-12 player ever to serve 200 aces in a career as she passed UCLA's Daiva Tomkus who had 198 nearly three decades ago (1986-89). Bricio has reached the six-ace mark in four separate matches including an eight-ace outing against Utah (Oct. 11) that matched USC's single-match record. Bricio already owns USC's career record, the school record in a single season (85 in 2013), the second-most so far this season, and the ninth most (43) in 2012. Her 85 aces was third in Pac-12 single-season history.
SCHOLASTIC HONOR: Senior setter/outside hitter Emily Young was named to the 2014 Capital One CoSIDA All-Academic All-District 8 First Team last week. With her selection, she becomes eligible for selection as a CoSIDA Academic All-American. Young holds a 3.69 undergraduate grade point average and will complete a bachelor's degree in business administration from USC's prestigious Marshall School of Business in December. She has also begun coursework towards a master's degree in communication management from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.