USC Faces Wildcats in NCAA First Round Match
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Dec. 4, 2013
2013 NCAA DI Women’s Volleyball Championship
First Round | Thursday, Dec. 5
Second Round | Friday, Dec. 6
LOS ANGELES - The sixth-seeded Women of Troy (26-5) make their 23rd straight appearance in the NCAA championship tournament (31st overall) and will host first- and second-round matches for the 11th consecutive year (20th time since 1992). Ranked seventh in the final regular-season poll, USC draws New Hampshire (20-12) and will face the Wildcats in its first-round match at 7:30 p.m. PT on Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Galen Center. The Pac-12 Networks will be on hand to broadcast the match with Anne Marie Anderson and Holly McPeak on the sidelines.
12th-ranked Colorado State (28-1) and Cal State Northridge (23-6) meet at 5 p.m. in the other first-round match. Winners of the two matches will advance to meet in a second-round match set for 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6.
UNH makes the tournament field for the fourth time in program history; the first since 2003. Exactly 10 years ago, on Dec. 5, 2003, the Wildcats also faced the Trojans in the first round of the NCAA tournament. USC claimed a 3-0 sweet (30-17, 30-18, 30-17) en route to winning the second of back-to-back national crowns.
The Trojans lean on senior All-American libero Natalie Hagglund who leads the Pac-12 with 5.43 dps (14th in the NCAA). She is USC’s career leader in digs (now with 2,292) and moved into third place in Pac-12 history. Hagglund was named the conference’s Libero of the Year for a third straight season and her 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 was named to the All-Pac-12 team a second time and carries part of the load with 3.45 kps. She leads the country in service aces (74) at 0.69 saps. Clocked at over 50 miles per hour, Bricio has had 11 matches, this season, in which she has posted three service aces, or more, and ranks eighth in the Pac-12 at 4.48 points per set.
Pac-12 Freshman of the Year OH Ebony Nwanebu is second on the team with 3.38 kps (.335) and also ranks third with 0.86 blocks per set. Nwanebu has been nothing short of impressive and has caught the eye of the conference right away with a record-setting six Freshman of the Week awards. At the other outside position, senior Sara Shaw is recording 1.98 kps and is second on the team with 2.90 dps. Shaw is just the 16th player in program history to record 1,000 digs and is only the 11th player at USC ever to post 1,000 digs and 800 career kills.
Defensively, All-Pac-12 senior MB Alexis Olgard leads the team with 1.28 bps and cannot be overlooked on the offensive side of the net as she logs 2.25 kps and is third in the league (10th in the NCAA) with a .430 hitting percentage. Junior MB Hannah Schraer is just a shade behind with 1.05 bps and puts up 1.42 kps.
Freshman OH Elise Ruddins has also proven to be a viable offensive option (2.43 kps, .260) and had a match with 24 kills earlier this season. Junior OH Emily Young is a steady force with 1.43 kps and a threat on second contact as a former setter. At the heart of the 6-2 USC offense, setters Hayley Crone (6.49 aps) and Alice Pizzasegola (5.70 aps) run the show and have the Trojans hitting .281 (3rd in the Pac-12) this season.
SCOUTING NEW HAMPSHIRE: New Hampshire (20-12) received the America East Conference’s automatic bid as winners of the league’s tournament. The Wildcats enter the NCAA championships as winners of nine straight but lost seven in a row earlier in the season. The last time USC and UNH met was in 2003. The Trojans claimed a 3-0 win in the first round of the NCAA tournament and went on to win the second of back-to-back national titles. This is the Wildcats’ fourth NCAA appearance and first since 2003. They have never advanced out of the first round in their previous three trips (1998, ’02, ’03). UNH is under the guidance of 18th-year head coach Jill Hirschinger and is led by a pair of senior right-side hitters. America East Player of the Year Morgan Thatcher puts up 3.07 kps and Destiny Tolliver led her league in blocks (1.11 bps) to receive second-team all-conference honors. Sophomore OH Tori Forrest earned first-team all-league mention and puts up 2.96 kps. Junior setter Taylor Dunklau had the Wildcats lead the league in hitting with a .203 percentage and averaged 9.67 aps this season. Forrest (38) and Dunklau (26) are just two of four Wildcats with more than 25 aces this season.
SCOUTING COLORADO STATE: Colorado State (28-1) is ranked 12th in the AVCA coaches poll and was 27-0 before it dropped a five-set decision to San Diego State. CSU won the Mountain West (19-1) to claim the league’s automatic bid and will make the program’s 25th overall appearance and 19th straight. The Rams have advanced to the round of 16 nine times, most recently in 2009. Colorado State and USC have met nine times (all in the 80’s). The Trojans own a 6-3 record against the Rams but lost the only time the teams faced each other at USC (Sept. 5, 1987).
SCOUTING CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE: Cal State Northridge (23-6) won a share of its first-ever Big West title (shared with Hawaii and UCSB) and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The Matadors will make their fifth appearance in the tournament; the program’s first since 2004. The Trojans met CSUN in the 1992 NCAA championships and own a 23-1 all-time record against the Matadors. USC has won its last 16 matches with CSUN and claimed a 3-0 victory the last time the teams met during the 2011 regular season. CSUN’s only win against the Trojans came in 1983.
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.
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.
LAST TIME OUT: The Trojans earned their fourth straight 3-0 sweep to close out the regular season on a high note as they defeated Colorado (26-24, 25-14, 25-21) on Senior Day. USC honored seniors Natalie Hagglund, Alexis Olgard, and Sara Shaw in pre-match ceremonies and were led by Hagglund’s 18 digs, Olgard’s .389 hitting percentage (8k, 1e, 18att), and Shaw’s pinpoint passing. Samantha Bricio led the team in scoring with 14.0 points on 12 kills (2e, 26att, .386) and two service aces. Freshman OH Ebony Nwanebu made a statement with 11 kills (2e, 24att, .375) while the Trojans hit .322 with strong setting from Hayley Crone (17 assists, five digs) and Alice Pizzasegola (21 assists, eight digs).
GALEN CENTER HOSTS NCAA REGIONAL: In addition to serving as hosts of first- and second-round matches, 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 championship, 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.
TROJAN TOURNAMENT HISTORY: USC has appeared in the NCAA tournament in all but two years (1986 and 1990) since its inception in 1981. In fact, the Trojans won the very first NCAA championship ever awarded. USC earned a 23rd consecutive berth into the 2013 field and has its sights set on the school’s seventh national title in women’s volleyball. The Women of Troy hold a 69-27 (.719) record in the NCAA tournament and claimed titles in 1981, 2002, and 2003. They have advanced to the regional championship match nine times since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1998. Overall, USC is 115-34 (.772) all-time in postseason matches and holds six national championships including the 1976, ’77, and 1980 AIAW titles. The Trojans have hosted the NCAA’s regional championship two other times: in 2000 and 2001. USC will host first- and second-round matches for the 11th consecutive year and the 20th overall since 1992. In 12 completed seasons under head coach Mick Haley, the Trojans have won back-to-back titles (‘02-03) and have appeared in the national semifinal on four other occasions (2004, ’07, ’10, ’11).
PAC-12 AWARDS: USC had six players recognized as the Pac-12 announced its postseason awards. Senior Natalie Hagglund earned her third All-Conference nod and was named the league’s Libero of the Year for the third straight season. Ebony Nwanebu was picked for Freshman of the Year honors and was the only freshman on the All-Conference Team and the All-Freshman Team. It is USC’s third Freshman of the Year award in four years and seventh all-time. Samantha Bricio was chosen to the All-Pac-12 Team for a second time and senior MB Alexis Olgard earned her first appearance on the All-Conference Team. Setter Alice Pizzasegola joined Nwanebu on the All-Freshman Team while OH Elise Ruddins received All-Freshman honorable mention. The Trojans had the most players on the All-Conference Team and were represented by four student-athletes for the sixth time in program history. USC also put multiple players on the All-Freshman Team for the fifth time.
DÉJÀ VU: Exactly 10 years ago, USC opened the 2003 NCAA tournament against New Hampshire and hosted the Wildcats for a first-round match at the Lyon Center on Dec. 5. That year, the Women of Troy swept UNH, 30-17, 30-18, 30-17, and went on to complete a perfect 35-0 season en route to the second of back-to-back NCAA titles. This year, on Dec. 5, 2013, the Trojans will start their run in the NCAA tournament against the Wildcats once again and hope to experience a little bit of history repeating.