No. 5 USC Opens 2014 at Community Bankers Classic

    USC senior setter Hayley Crone leads the Trojans into their first tournament of the season.
    Aug. 28, 2014

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    2014 Community Bankers Volleyball Classic
    Hosted by University of the Pacific
    Alex G. Spanos Center | Stockton, Calif.

    Match #1
    No. 5 USC (0-0) vs. Rider (0-0)
    Friday, Aug. 29 - 5 p.m. PT
    Last Meeting: First Meeting
    Opponent Web:
    Match #2
    No. 5 USC (0-0) vs. Arkansas-Little Rock (0-0)
    Saturday, Aug. 30 - 10 a.m. PT
    Last Meeting: First Meeting
    Opponent Web:
    Match #3
    No. 5 USC (0-0) at Pacific (0-0)
    Saturday, Aug. 30 - 7 p.m. PT
    Series Record: Pacific leads, 10-8
    Last Meeting: L, 3-2 (Nov. 28, 1998 | Stockton, Calif.)
    Current Streak: Lost 1 | Last 10 Meetings: 3-7
    Opponent Web:

     - The fifth-ranked USC women's volleyball team (0-0) opens its 2014 campaign on the road in the Community Bankers Volleyball Classic this weekend (Aug. 29-30) at the Alex G. Spanos Center in Stockton, Calif. The Women of Troy will face Rider at 5 p.m. PT (Friday), Arkansas-Little Rock at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and wrap the tournament against host Pacific at 7 p.m. Saturday.

    The Trojans were 29-6 a year ago and made their fourth straight appearance in the NCAA regional finals. USC is 11-2 in season openers under head coach Mick Haley and has won each of the last four openers. Overall, the Trojans are 32-6 in season openers and 10-3 when the opening match is on the road.

    Last year, USC started the season with six straight wins and dropped just one match through its first 18 contests. However, you could hardly mistake this squad for last year's talent-laden core. The Trojans must replace the services of three-time All-American libero Natalie Hagglund and All-American middle blocker Alexis Olgard. USC will also miss the pinpoint passing and steady influence of since departed outside hitter Sara Shaw.

    Despite its youthful stature, the Trojan roster is packed with firepower and experience. USC returns All-American outside hitter Samantha Bricio as well as the 2013 AVCA Freshman of the Year Ebony Nwanebu. Running the offense, senior setter Hayley Crone and sophomore Alice Pizzasegola will distribute to a host of weapons.

    Defensively, the Women of Troy will likely need to replace Hagglund by committee. The three-time Pac-12 Libero of the Year played nearly every rally a season ago, but USC benefits from the return of a strong trio of sophomore liberos including Anne Marie Schmidt, Taylor Whittingham, and Kelly Wimmer.

    At the net, the Trojans will look to senior middle Hannah Schraer to be the shutdown blocker. Schraer was second on the team in blocks (1.01 bps) behind Olgard in 2013. Junior middle Alicia Ogoms will also factor into the Trojans' defensive schemes. Senior opposite Emily Young and sophomore outside Elise Ruddins have shown that they can each score and are a physical presence at the point of attack.

    USC welcomes a crop of freshmen that was ranked No. 2 as a class by PrepVolleyball. Outside hitters Lauryn Gillis, Brittany Abercrombie, Taylor Wheatley, and Sarah Livingston could all see the court early in the season. Middle blocker Jordan Dunn is a force to be reckoned with at 6-4, and will push for space in the rotation right away.

    The Trojans will meet Rider and Arkansas-Little Rock each for the first time in program history. USC and Pacific have met 18 times previously with the Tigers holding a 10-8 advantage in the series. The last time the two teams met, Pacific defeated USC in five sets in the 1998 Bankers Classic in Stockton, Calif.

    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.

    LOOK, MOM! I'M ON TV: The Trojans will appear on live television broadcasts in 21 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 will appear on the West Coast Conference's digital network ( when it plays in the Community Bankers Volleyball Classic in Stockton, Calif.

    S.O.S.: USC's strength-of-schedule index is high this season. The Women of Troy have six matches against teams ranked in the AVCA preseason top 10 including a pair against No. 3 Stanford, a pair against No. 4 Washington, and one meeting each with No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 10 Florida. The Trojans also take on No. 19 Kentucky on the road, No. 23 Creighton in a neutral-site battle, and No. 25 Arizona State. Five other Pac-12 teams received votes in the preseason poll and sit just outside the top 25, which could mean the Women of Troy may face up to nine more ranked teams before the season's end.

    PAC-12 COACHES POLL: The Women of Troy received five first-place votes and finished second in a preseason poll of Pac-12 coaches. The five top votes equaled the same number received by top finisher Stanford. In fact, the Trojans were just one point shy of a tie in the preseason poll (114-113). Washington was picked to finish third with two first-place votes and was followed by Arizona State in fourth, and a tie for fifth by California and Oregon. Colorado, UCLA, Arizona, Utah, Washington State, and Oregon State rounded out the bottom of the coaches poll in that order.

    POLL POSITION: The Trojans open 2014 ranked No. 5 in the AVCA's Preseason Coaches Top 25 Poll. It is the 443rd time that USC appears in the poll which ties for fourth-most all-time. USC has also held a spot among the poll's top 10 teams 291 times, which ranks sixth all-time. The Trojans have also held the No. 1 ranking 41 times previously, which is also sixth all-time. Last year, USC was ranked No. 1 in three of the season's 16 polls.

    MILESTONE ON THE HORIZON: The USC program is just 10 wins from recording its 950th victory. In its 39th year, the Women of Troy hold a 940-313-4 (.748) all-time record. Head coach Mick Haley has been at the helm to see the Trojans to their 50-win milestones since he brought the team its 600th win on Sept. 7, 2001. USC reached 900 wins on Oct. 21, 2012, with a win over Colorado at the Galen Center.

    SUMMER STAYCATION: It was all work for the Women of Troy this summer. Junior OH Samantha Bricio spent part of her time with the Pac-12 All-Star Team that toured China. Sophomore OH Ebony Nwanebu was chosen to the U.S. Collegiate Women's National Team that was sent to China as well, but bypassed her trip to join the U.S. Senior National Team in Switzerland for the Montreux Master's tournament. Senior MB Hannah Schraer and sophomore OH Elise Ruddins were each members of another U.S. Collegiate National Team that participated in the Girls Junior National Championships in Minnesota in July. Freshman Brittany Abercrombie propelled Coast Volleyball Club to the gold medal in the 18-Open Division of the GJNCs while Jordan Dunn's Mavericks Club took third in the 18-National Division.

    ON THE DOUBLES: Three different USC players bring back a list of career double-double matches this season led by junior OH Samantha Bricio who 22 in her career. Senior setter Hayley Crone has 13 career double-doubles and sophomore setter Alice Pizzasegola has one. In 2013, Bricio has reached double digits in points 33 times while sophomore Ebony Nwanebu had 27 double-digit scoring matches.

    HALEY HITS 1100/1200: Head coach Mick Haley recorded his 1,100th win in 2013. He has 343 with USC, 522 with Texas, and 348 with Kellogg CC (1,116 total). He has also surpassed 1,200 overall victories in his career including 97 wins with the men's team at Kellogg CC (1,213 all time)

    ACE IN THE HOLE: Junior OH Samantha Bricio led the NCAA in service aces in 2013 with a remarkable 0.70 saps average. After leading the conference (43, 0.36 saps) in 2012, she completely surpassed her freshman mark with 85 in 2013. The 85 aces in a single season set a new school record and put her in third place in Pac-12 single-season history. Previously, USC's single-season mark for aces was 59 shared by April Ross (2003) and Nancy Hillman (1988). Ross also used to hold the Trojan record for highest single-season average with 0.52 saps in 2003. In just two seasons, Bricio has broken into the Trojan top 10 for career aces and ranks fifth with 128.

    FRESH AWARDS: The Trojans have been able to restock the cabinet from year to year and 2013 was no exception. Each of USC's freshmen outside hitters was been named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week last season. Ebony Nwanebu received her record-setting sixth award for the week of Nov. 25-Dec. 2. She was also selected for the first week of the year and then again for Sept. 30, Oct. 7, and Oct. 14 to make her the first player ever to win the award three weeks in a row. Nwanebu earned her fifth selection on Nov. 10 and tied Samantha Bricio (2012) and surpassed her in the final week of the season. OH Elise Ruddins was chosen for weekly freshman honors for the week of Sept. 9-15 following a breakout weekend in which she had 38 kills (5.43 kps) including 24 against UC Santa Barbara at the USD Tournament. All told, the Trojans own 12 Freshman of the Week awards; the most by any Pac-12 school.

    ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS: Three Benjamins to be exact. Head coach Mick Haley earned his 300th win at USC in 2012. His 311th victory made him the winningest coach in program history. He is 343-76 in 14 seasons with USC for a .819 winning percentage. Haley surpassed legendary coach Chuck Erbe who logged a 310-121-3 record in 12 seasons as USC's head coach from 1976-77 and 1979-88. Haley's 300th win with Troy gave him at least 300 wins at three different schools: Kellogg Community College, Texas, and USC.

    HOME, SWEET HOME: The Trojans have enjoyed the comforts of home to the tune of a 108-12 (.900) all-time record at the Galen Center. When it comes to the volleyball court, the Women of Troy are less than hospitable to their visitors. The Trojans went 12-1 in home matches in 2011 and completed the 2012 home schedule with a 17-1 mark. In 2007, USC was 19-0 at home on the way to an appearance in the NCAA national semifinal match. USC's 16-match home winning streak from Oct. 5, 2012 to Oct. 25, 2013 is the second longest in Galen Center history.

    ALL-AMERICAN GIRLS: The Women of Troy have had 38 different players earn 70 All-America selections (49 issued by the AVCA) in their storied history. In 2013, USC added four more to its list of award winners Natalie Hagglund and Ebony Nwanebu were each named to AVCA All-America first team. Hagglund received her third first-team nod and also earned her third Pac-12 Libero of the Year honor. Nwanebu was honored as the National Freshman of the Year. Following an honorable mention as a freshman, OH Samantha Bricio took second-team AVCA honors in 2013, while senior MB Alexis Olgard was placed on the All-America third team.

    INTERNATIONAL SPLASH: Sophomore outside hitter Samantha Bricio didn't have what you might consider a typical college summer break. The Guadalajara native spent a two weeks with the Pac-12 All-Star Team in China. The squad toured historic landmarks, and played several national and club teams during its stay. In 2012, Bricio spent time with the Mexican national team and earned Top Scorer and all-tournament honors at the XII Movistar Pan American Cup in Lima, Peru.

    DUB CLUB DUB STEP: Two pairs of USC's sophomores come from two different clubs. Liberos Anne Marie Schmidt and Kelly Wimmer were teammates at Vision in Los Gatos, Calif., under the direction of Jason Mansfield. Libero Taylor Whittingham and outside hitter Elise Ruddins joined forces on the Laguna Beach Volleyball Club in Laguna Beach, Calif., under the direction of Michael Soylular.

    #2 BROTHERLY INFLUENCE: One of Samantha Bricio's biggest life influences has been her older brother Irving Bricio. The elder Bricio was a professional men's volleyball player in Switzerland.

    #2 ARE YOU CRAZY?: Of all the dream jobs one could have, Samantha Bricio aspires to work in a mental hospital with dangerous criminals. Currently pursuing her bachelor's degree in psychology, Bricio is considering completing a master's degree in criminal psychology when she is done with her playing career.

    #3 BONE OUT: While most humans are walking around with the standard 206 bones in their body, freshman OH Lauryn Gillis is just one short. When she was younger, she shattered a bone in her foot so bad that doctors removed it completely.

    #4 JUST HORSING AROUND: Senior setter Hayley Crone's family owns more than 15 horses. A native of Temecula, Calif., Crone made use of the vast lands of the California Inland Empire as an avid horse rider. She has ridden competitively as a member of penning team and enjoys riding whenever she is home in the Temecula Valley.

    #4 HAIR BY HAYLEY: Senior setter Hayley Crone often has half of her hair braided on the front of her head. She learned how to braid on the manes of her horses and now helps the rest of her teammates with their hair before matches.

    #5 NET VIOLATION: Freshman MB Jordan Dunn is all about preventing net violations. She used to be a goalie for her soccer team at Corona HS as a freshman and sophomore. At 6-5, her reach helped her stop many oppositional net violations during her futbol career.

    #6 LA COSTA CONNECTION: Freshman OH Brittany Abercrombie is the third player to play for USC from La Costa Canyon HS in Carlsbad, Calif. She followed in the footsteps of three-time All-American libero Natalie Hagglund, and All-American opposite hitter Katie Fuller who each produced successful careers with the Women of Troy.

    #7 SECOND TO NONE: Sophomore OH Ebony Nwanebu became USC's first official AVCA National Freshman of the Year in 2013. She joins the likes of three-time All-American OH April Ross who was chosen as the Volleyball Magazine Freshman of the Year in 2000 before the AVCA presented the award. Samantha Bricio was also the magazine's Freshman of the Year in 2012. Nwanebu was also a first-team AVCA All-American as a frosh, which is something that hasn't happened since Tracy Clark (1982-85) earned first-team honors four straight years though not presented by the AVCA.

    #8 OH, CANADA: Junior MB Alicia Ogoms is the first-ever scholarship volleyball player at USC to hail from Canada. The 6-4 Ogoms is from Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she attended St. Mary's.

    #8 ON THE RIGHT TRACK: As a child, middle blocker Alicia Ogoms received a picture book form her mother depicting the accomplishments of American track athlete Wilma Rudolph. It became her favorite book because Rudolph's story was so inspiring. Known as The Fastest Woman in the World in the 1960's, Rudolph won three gold medals in the Rome Olympics. Ogoms admires the relentless spirit and perseverance that Rudolph represents.

    #9 FASTBALL: Freshman OH Taylor Wheatley has "Trojan" written all over her. She is the younger sister of a pair of star pitchers on USC's baseball team. Eldest brother Bobby Wheatley is now a pitcher for the MLB Toronto Blue Jays while Brent Wheatley is a junior hurler for the Trojans. Taylor's father Bob Sr. played basketball while at USC and her mother Julie Wheatley was a USC Song Girl.

    #11 BLOOD LINES: Sophomore OH Elise Ruddins has volleyball in her blood. The accomplished hitter is the daughter of Jerome Ruddins, a former men's volleyball player at Long Beach State, and is the niece of one of the most heralded setters in Troy's history: Kim Ruddins (1981-85). Elise's aunt won the program's first NCAA title in 1980 and was a two-time first-team All-American (1984-85). She was also won the silver medal with the US women's national team at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

    #14 SCHRAERING THE LOAD: Senior MB Hannah Schraer spent seven years as an active volunteer for the Pasadena (Calif.) chapter of the National Charity League where she served as a teacher's aid for a kindergarten class and taught art classes to younger kids. The NCL has thrived as one of the nation's most distinctive and well-respected mother-daughter organizations for 50 years. Their mission is to foster mother-daughter relationships in a philanthropic organization committed to community service, leadership development, and cultural experiences in order to develop strong women leaders who serve and impact communities and for generations to come.

    #15 SOCCER SISTER: Sophomore libero Kelly Wimmer comes from a family with true athletic pedigree. Father Gary Wimmer played linebacker at Stanford (1979-82) and in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks (1983) while her sister Rachel Wimmer was a member of USC's women's soccer team in 2011.

    #16 SPEAKING OUT FOR AUTISM: Sophomore libero Taylor Whittingham has been actively involved in autism awareness programs since her younger brother was diagnosed with the neural-developmental disorder. She has organized fundraising efforts among her high school and club teams and has inspired others to join the effort to spread awareness and generate funds for autism research.

    #20 RESIDENT POET LAUREATE: Senior OH Emily Young often thinks in rhyme and prose. The good thing for everyone else is that she will often write down her thoughts in the form of a poem. This fall, the fourth-year Illinois transplant will blog for ESPNW and may just share some of her poetry with the sporting world. Visit and click on "College Sports" to find hers and many other collegiate blogs.

    #23 ROUNDBALL ROCK: Freshman OH Sarah Livingston isn't new to volleyball, but it is a drastic change from her basketball-playing days at Illinois just a couple months ago. The transfer was a guard on the Illini squad in 2013-14 and was dribbling not too long ago. She is the younger sister of nine-year NBA veteran guard Shaun Livingston who was the fourth overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. He is currently a guard with the Golden State Warriors.