No. 6 Trojans Claim Commonwealth Classic Championship

    Sophomore libero Taylor Whittingham had 22 digs in USC's 3-0 win over Northern Iowa.

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    Sept. 6, 2014

    Final Stats |  Notes | Box Score (PDF) Get Acrobat Reader

    LEXINGTON, Ky. - The sixth-ranked USC women's volleyball team (6-0) earned a 3-0 sweep (25-21, 25-22, 27-25) of Northern Iowa (2-4) to win the 2014 Commonwealth Classic at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, Sept. 6. The Women of Troy have now started the season 6-0 in each of the last two years.
    The Trojan offense was powered by sophomore outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu who put up 17.0 points to lead all players and finished with 15 kills (2e, 32att, .406). Nwanebu also served one ace and had two digs and two blocks. Freshman outside hitter Brittany Abercrombie added 12 kills (1e, 25att) and hit .400 in the match. Junior outside hitter Samantha Bricio tallied nine kills (2e, 28att) while hitting .250 and finished with two service aces, six digs, and a pair of blocks.
    USC's setters helped the Trojans to a .248 hitting percentage in the match with 51 kills (17e, 137att). Senior Hayley Crone picked up her fourth double-double of the season (17th of her career) with 21 assists and 13 digs while sophomore Alice Pizzasegola had 16 assists and five digs. Sophomore libero Taylor Whittingham recorded a new career high for the third straight match and finished with 22 digs. Whittingham also had six assists.
    For Northern Iowa, Eryca Hingtgen put down 11 kills (6e, 42att), but hit .119 in the process. Amie Held had 22 digs on defense, while Kayla Haneline earned eight kills (2e, 22att, .273), and Autumn Alitz had seven kills without an error (14att) for a .500 hitting percentage. Alitz led all players with four blocks. 
    The Trojans never trailed in the first set but needed to stave off a hard charge by the Panthers to complete a 25-21 victory. USC went up by as many as nine points at 18-9 when junior middle blocker Alicia Ogoms crushed a quick set from Crone into the floor. UNI slowly chipped away at the Trojan lead and came within six on a kill by Hingtgen, 22-16. The Panthers blocked two straight USC attacks to climb within four points at 22-18, but freshman outside hitter Lauryn Gillis knocked a shot off the UNI block to stop the bleeding. Two more Trojan errors brought the Panthers within three, but Nwanebu went off the block to give USC set point before Gillis' crosscourt kill ended a long rally to seal the first-set win for the Trojans. USC put up a .224 hitting percentage in the first set with 18 kills (7e) on 49 swings. The Panthers hit .159 (12k, 5e) on 44 attempts.
    What started as a USC-controlled second set turned into a gut check for the Trojans. Freshman middle Jordan Dunn and Nwanebu combined to block Hingtgen for an 8-5 lead, but the three-point advantage was erased quickly when Hingtgen scored three straight kills to put UNI up, 10-9. The teams went back and forth but Nwanebu terminated on four out of six rallies to give the Trojans a slim 18-17 lead. Bricio's crosscourt kill and Gillis' ace pulled the Trojans out to a 21-17 lead, but errors kept the Panthers alive. Errors also killed UNI's chances as a Panther service error closed out a 25-22 win for USC. The Trojans hit .326 in the second set with 17 kills (3e, 43att) while Northern Iowa was .213 with 14 kills (4e) on 47 swings.
    The teams went through 20 ties before USC got the two points it needed to polish off a 27-25 win in the third set. Neither team could generate much space on the scoreboard but UNI scored the first mini run of the set with three straight points that turned a six-all tie into a 9-6 lead for the Panthers. That was all the Trojans would give up as Ogoms' kill on an overpass tied the score back up at nine. Nwanebu attacked the Panther seam to give USC an 11-9 lead, but UNI fought back and went ahead, 15-13, on a kill by Haneline. The Trojans clawed their way back to a tie at 15-all, and went ahead, 22-20, when Bricio rejected a shot by Haneline. Crone sent a backset to Abercrombie who scored to knot the score at 23-all, and Dunn put down an overpass off of a Bricio serve to give the Trojans their first match point at 25-24. Haneline saved the day once more before Hingtgen put one in the net and Nwanebu put one out of reach of a Panther defender to end the match. USC hit .200 in the third set (16k, 7e, 45att) and stayed ahead of UNI which posted a .150 hitting set (14k, 8e, 40att).
    The Women of Troy will play their first home matches next week as hosts of the 2014 USC Classic at Galen Center. On Thursday, Sept. 11, San Diego and Florida will start at 5 p.m. PT and be followed by USC's match with Texas A&M at 8 p.m. On Friday, Sept. 12, USD and Texas A&M will tangle at 4:30 p.m. before the Trojans and the Gators meet for the first time since 2005 in a 7:30 p.m. start. USC's two matches will be broadcast live by the Pac-12 Networks. Tammy Blackburn and Krista Blunk will have the call on Thursday and Anne Marie Anderson and Holly McPeak will call Friday's match.
    Fans can purchase tickets for the USC Classic at or by calling 213-740-GOSC. A special USC Classic Family Pack is available for $40 and includes four tickets for all matches, four Classic T-Shirts, and four Classic Cups, which are good for free refills at Galen Center concession stands throughout the duration of the tournament. For more information on the USC women's volleyball team and a complete schedule, please visit and follow @USCWomensVolley on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
    • USC improved to 3-0 in its all-time series record with Northern Iowa.
    • The Women of Troy won the Commonwealth Classic title and had three players on the all-tournament team. Ebony Nwanebu was chosen for MVP honors and was joined on the team by Samantha Bricio and Brittany Abercrombie.
    • The Trojans improved to 5-0 in all-time matches played in the state of Kentucky.
    • USC extended its winning streak to six matches; its longest streak since the Trojans won seven straight between Nov. 22 and Dec. 13, 2013.
    • The Women of Troy have started each of the last two seasons with six straight victories.
    • Senior setter Hayley Crone had 21 assists and 13 digs to log her fourth double-double of the season; the 17th of her career.
    • Sophomore libero Taylor Whittingham set a new career mark for the third straight match and finished with 22 digs.