USC Looks to Snap Two-Match Skid Against Wildcats
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*** USC PRE-MATCH HAPPY HOUR ***
Fans! Join us for special pre-match HAPPY HOURS at the Galen Center Founders' Room 90 minutes before every Friday home match. Beat the traffic, relax, and enjoy a cash bar and bar food items made to order. The following home matches will feature these special happy hours: vs. Stanford (Oct. 4), vs. Washington State (Oct. 25), vs. Oregon (Nov. 8), vs. Arizona (Nov. 22). Fight On!
Nov. 21, 2013
LOS ANGELES - The eighth-ranked USC women's volleyball team (22-5, 12-4 Pac-12) must regroup and do so quickly in order to squash a two-match losing streak as the postseason fast approaches. The Women of Troy will host Arizona (19-9, 9-7) on Friday, Nov. 22, and Arizona State (17-11, 6-10) on Sunday, Nov. 24, at the Galen Center. The USC-ASU match will be carried live regionally by the Pac-12 Networks with Kevin Barnett and Kelli Tennant on the call.
While the Pac-12 title may be out of reach, the Trojans have the opportunity to generate some momentum in search of the program's 23rd consecutive berth in the NCAA tournament (31st overall) with their final four regular-season matches in Southern California; three at the Galen Center. As host of the NCAA's Los Angeles Regional Championship, USC could foreseeably play up to seven of its next eight matches at home if it can find the winning track that it was on earlier in the season.
Since 2009, the Trojans are 15-1 in the last four matches of the regular season and finished as national semifinalists in 2010 and '11. Last season, USC hosted first and second round matches for the 10th straight year and advanced to the Austin Regional Championship match before falling to eventual champion Texas. It was USC's ninth regional final appearance since 1998.
The Trojans lean on senior libero Natalie Hagglund who leads the Pac-12 with 5.31 dps (19th in the NCAA). She is USC's career leader in digs (now with 2,216) and moved into third place in Pac-12 history. Hagglund is only the second Trojan ever to record three seasons with at least 500 digs (Debora Seilhamer) and now owns four of USC's top 10 single-season digs records including her 510 this season which ranks in a tie for sixth with Alli Hillgren (2009). Hagglund's accomplishments have made her one of 10 finalists 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 3.42 kps and is second in the country in service aces (65) at 0.68 saps. Clocked at over 50 miles per hour, Bricio has had 10 matches, this season, in which she has posted three service aces, or more, and ranks eighth in the Pac-12 at 4.45 points per set. Her five-ace performance at Cal made her the single-season record holder at USC with 65 and counting.
Freshman OH Ebony Nwanebu is second on the team with 3.27 kps (.326) and also ranks third with 0.84 blocks per set. Nwanebu has been nothing short of impressive and has caught the eye of the conference with a record-tying five Pac-12 Freshman of the Week awards. At the other outside position, senior OH Sara Shaw is recording 2.05 kps and is second on the team with 2.85 dps. Junior OH Emily Young has become a steady force for the Trojans with 1.43 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 (2.35 kps) and had a match with 24 kills earlier this season.
Defensively, senior MB Alexis Olgard leads the team with 1.29 bps and cannot be overlooked on the offensive side of the net as she logs 2.22 kps and is second in the league with a .431 hitting percentage. Junior MB Hannah Schraer is just a shade behind with 1.05 bps and puts up 1.41 kps. At the heart of the USC offense, setters Hayley Crone (6.41 aps) and Alice Pizzasegola (5.70 aps) run the show and have the Trojans hitting .277 (3rd in the Pac-12) this season.
LAST TIME OUT: The Trojans suffered a stunning five-set loss to Washington State (11-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-22, 21-19) in the Palouse. The Cougars battled back from two sets down and saved 10 match points to snap USC's eight-match winning streak. The Trojans fell despite an impressive performance from OH Samantha Bricio who had her ninth double-double of the season (22 kills, 15 digs).
SCOUTING ARIZONA: The Wildcats (19-9, 9-7 Pac-12) have won four of their last five and earned 3-0 sweeps in each of those matches. Arizona's only loss was to No. 3 Washington. Senior libero Candace Nicholson is the Wildcats' career record holder for digs with 1,547. She ranks sixth in the Pac-12 at 4.30 dps and helps Arizona rank first in the league at 17.00 dps. Junior OH Madi Kingdon is the nation's eighth-leading scorer and tops all Pac-12 players with 5.23 pps. She ranks 19th in the NCAA and third in the league with 4.43 kps. Kingdon is also fourth in the league in service aces at 0.35 saps (34 aces) and is second on the team with 3.03 dps this season. Freshman setter Penina Snuka dishes out 10.11 aps to rank sixth in the Pac-12 and picks up her share of digs with 2.58 dps. Sophomore OH Jane Croson accounts for 2.88 kps and 2.93 dps and is second on the team for aces with 13. In the middle, sophomore MB Olivia Magill leads the team with 1.17 blocks per set and puts in 1.94 kps. Arizona is the league's leader for opponent hitting percentage and holds its opponents to a .160 hitting rate. Junior OH Taylor Arizobal nabs 1.82 kps and 0.83 bps while sophomore MB Halli Amaro adds 1.70 kps and 1.14 bps.
THE MATCHUP: The Trojans and the Wildcats will meet for the 78th time. USC owns a 58-19 all-time record against Arizona and has won eight of the last 10 meetings. The Trojans had their seven-match winning streak against the Cats snapped when Arizona stunned a top-ranked USC with a 3-0 win in the desert on Oct. 20. At home, the Trojans are 30-5 against the Cats and have won 11 straight. Arizona last defeated USC in Los Angeles on Dec. 7, 2001, at the LA Sports Arena during the NCAA regional championship match.
ARIZONA HEAD COACH DAVID RUBIO: Arizona head coach David Rubio is in his 22nd season with the Wildcats and has compiled a 414-249 overall record. Rubio has amassed a 536-315 record in 27 seasons as a collegiate head coach. He has led Arizona to 15 NCAA tournament selections including an appearance among the final four in 2001.
GALEN CENTER HOSTS NCAA REGIONAL: The University of Southern California and Galen Center will play host to the 2013 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Tournament's Los Angeles Regional Championship on Dec. 13-14 (Friday-Saturday). One team out of the region will secure one of four highly coveted spots in the national semifinals, which will be held at Key Arena (Dec. 19-21) in Seattle, Wash., hosted by the University of Washington and the Seattle Sports Commission. Since it opened in 2006, the Galen Center has hosted many high-profile sporting events including the 2012 NCAA Men's Volleyball Championship and the 2007 NCAA Women's Basketball First and Second Rounds. The 10,258-seat arena has also hosted the Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament, the MPSF Men's Volleyball Championship, and the first and second rounds of the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championships; the latter in each of the last seven years. Outside of sports, the venue is also the site of entertainment events such as the Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards, Microsoft's E3, the League of Legends Championships, and popular reality talent show The X-Factor.
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: USC announced that it had signed four of the top prep volleyball players in the nation to the 2014 incoming freshman class on Wednesday (Nov. 20). The Trojans have consistently produced some of the top recruiting classes in the country and fared no different when it received commitments from Brittany Abercrombie (Carlsbad, Calif. | La Costa Canyon HS), Jordan Dunn (Corona, Calif. | Corona HS), Lauryn Gillis (New Castle, Ind. | New Castle HS), and Taylor Wheatley (Villa Park, Calif. | Orange Lutheran HS). According to PrepVolleyball, Gillis is rated the No. 4 Senior Ace, Abercrombie is ranked No. 7, and Wheatley is ranked No. 25. Abercrombie and Gillis are each Under Armour Girls High School All-Americans.
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.