Trojans Host BYU in NCAA Regional Semifinal
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Dec. 8, 2013
2013 NCAA DI Women's Volleyball Championship
Regional Semifinals | Friday, Dec. 13
Regional Championship | Saturday, Dec. 14
Semifinal #1 Winner vs. Semifinal #2 Winner | 8:30 p.m.
Dec. 10, 2013
LOS ANGELES - The sixth-seeded Women of Troy (28-5) make their 10th appearance in the NCAA regional semifinals under head coach Mick Haley and will face BYU (24-6) on Friday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. PT at the Galen Center as hosts of the Los Angeles Regional Championship. The region's top seed No. 3 Washington (28-2) will face 14th-seeded Kansas (25-7) in the earlier semifinal (5 p.m. PT). Both matches will be broadcast live on ESPN3 with Sam Gore and Holly McPeak on the call. Semifinal winners will advance to meet in the regional championship match scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 14, at 8:30 p.m. PT. The regional final will be carried by ESPNU.
USC is 107-11 (.907) all-time at Galen Center and has won six straight 3-0 matches. But the Trojans will get stiff tests in the next rounds. No. 21 BYU showed its mettle in a five-set victory over Arizona State then beat 11th-seeded Hawai'i in three sets in Honolulu. If the Women of Troy get by the Cougars, they'll have to face either the Big XII's second-place team Kansas or go head-to-head with the Pac-12 champion Huskies. Washington won the regular-season series against the Trojans and is one of just five teams that can claim to have beaten USC in the Galen Center.
The Trojans lean on senior All-American libero Natalie Hagglund who leads the Pac-12 with 5.30 dps (18th in the NCAA). She is USC's career leader in digs (now with 2,310) and is third place in Pac-12 history. Hagglund received her third straight Pac-12 Libero of the Year and AVCA all-region awards this year.
Offensively, USC's weaponry is spread evenly across its six hitters. Sophomore OH Samantha Bricio was named to the All-Pac-12 and All-Region team a second time and carries part of the load with 3.42 kps. She leads the country in service aces (80) at 0.71 saps and holds USC's single-season record as well as the third-highest record in Pac-12 single-season history. Bricio has had 12 matches, this season, in which she has posted three service aces, or more, and ranks eighth in the Pac-12 at 4.47 points per set.
AVCA Pacific South Region and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year OH Ebony Nwanebu is second on the team with 3.32 kps (.339) and also ranks third with 0.85 blocks per set. Nwanebu has been nothing short of impressive and 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 2.00 kps and is second on the team with 2.84 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 kills in her career.
Defensively, All-Pacific South and All-Pac-12 senior MB Alexis Olgard leads the team with 1.27 bps and cannot be overlooked on the offensive side of the net as she logs 2.22 kps and is third in the league (10th in the NCAA) with a .437 hitting percentage. Junior MB Hannah Schraer is just a shade behind with 1.02 bps and puts up 1.47 kps.
Freshman OH Elise Ruddins has also proven to be a viable offensive option (2.41 kps, .271) and had a match with 24 kills earlier this season. At the heart of the 6-2 USC offense, setters Hayley Crone (6.50 aps) and Alice Pizzasegola (5.67 aps) run the show and have the Trojans hitting .287 (2nd, Pac-12).
SCOUTING BYU: No. 21-ranked BYU (24-6) finished second in the West Coast Conference with a 15-3 mark and is guided by third-year head coach Shawn Olmstead. The Cougars will make their second consecutive appearance in the NCAA regional semifinals following a four-year absence from the tournament between 2008-11. Olmstead was named the AVCA Pacific Region Coach of the Year in 2012 after guiding BYU to a 28-4 overall record and a share of the WCC crown. The Cougars rallied to fend off Arizona State in their first-round match for a 3-2 win (15-10 in the fifth) and then shocked host and 12th-ranked Hawai'i on the islands to earn their berth in the regional semifinals. Sophomore OH Alexa Gray had 40 kills through those two matches and leads the team with 3.91 kps on the season. Junior OH Tambre Haddock is a viable second option for the Cougar offense at 3.47 kps. She is also second on the team with 24 aces and is one of the top three defenders with 2.69 dps. Sophomore setter Camry Godfrey puts up 10.90 aps and leads the team with 30 aces. She plays her share of defense with 2.19 dps. Libero Ciera Parker leads the team with 3.97 dps and freshman MB Whitney Young leads BYU with 1.59 blocks per set and hits .417 with 1.36 kps.
SCOUTING WASHINGTON: Fifth-ranked Washington (28-2) holds the third seed in the tournament and advanced to its second straight regional semifinal (seventh under head coach Jim McLaughlin) with a 3-0 win over Alabama State in the first round and a four-set victory over LSU in the second round. Led by Pac-12 Player of the Year Krista Vansant, the Huskies won both regular-season matches over the Trojans en route to the Pac-12 title and are one of just five teams that can claim to have beaten USC in the Galen Center.
SCOUTING KANSAS: 14th-seeded Kansas (25-7) makes its first-ever appearance in the NCAA regional semifinals. The Jayhawks hosted first- and second-round matches in Lawrence, Kan., and defeated in-state rival Wichita State (3-1) in the first round and then took out Creighton (3-1) in the second round. Kansas finished second in the Big XII with a 12-4 mark and has never met semifinal foe Washington or regional host USC in women's volleyball. The Jayhawks are under the direction of 16th-year head coach Ray Bechard.
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 users 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: USC made short work of its first-round foe and dispatched of America East champion New Hampshire in three sets (25-9, 25-10, 25-12) to maintain a spotless 13-0 mark in first-round matches under head coach Mick Haley. The Trojans were led by Ebony Nwanebu who had 10 kills (.714). Samantha Bricio added seven kills (.778) and 10 digs not to mention her 12th single-match performance with three service aces or more. She had four to score 11.5 point on the night. USC faced and took out Cal State Northridge in the second round, 25-19, 25-18, 25-18, to move into its 10th NCAA regional semifinal in Haley's 13 years at Troy. Bricio logged 11 kills (.286) and had two more aces to lead the way with 14.5 points. Hannah Schraer nabbed nine kills and hit .750 while senior libero Natalie Hagglund led the defensive efforts with 13 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 plays 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 71-27 (.740) 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 117-34 (.775) 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 hosted 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).
AVCA HONORS FOUR: The AVCA's Pacific South Region coaches honored four Trojans as members of the 14-player all-region team. Natalie Hagglund received her third all-region nod and Samantha Bricio was tabbed for the second time. Alexis Olgard was chosen for all-region honors for the first time along with Ebony Nwanebu who was the only freshman on the team. Nwanebu was also chosen as the Pacific South's Freshman of the Year. USC's four selections outpaced every other team in the region. San Diego and Cal State Northridge each had two with six other schools represented by a single player. In all, the Pac-12 had a record 16 players receive AVCA all-region honors.
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.