No. 2 USC Returns to Galen Center to Host Cats and Dogs|
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LOS ANGELES -- The second-ranked Women of Troy (14-0, 2-0 Pac-12) put their unblemished record on the line when they return home to the Galen Center for the first time in four matches to host Washington State (12-2, 1-1) and No. 5 Washington (12-0, 2-0) this weekend. The Trojans and the Cougars meet on Friday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m. USC then faces the Huskies on Sunday, Oct. 4, at 1 p.m. PT on the Pac-12 Networks with Anne Marie Anderson and Josh Grau on the broadcast.
The Trojans are off to the program's best start since the 2006 squad went 17-0 to open the season. Through this 14-match winning streak, USC has dropped just four sets and was only pushed to five sets once, in a come-from-behind road victory over defending Pac-12 champion Stanford. The Women of Troy have played each of their last four matches away from home but now have the chance to expand on their perfect 7-0 mark at the Galen Center this season.
USC is one of five remaining undefeated teams in the country (Penn State, Kansas) and one of three from the Pac-12 (Washington, Arizona State). Facing Pac-12 schools from the Pacific Northwest has been a tale of two cities for the Trojans lately. USC has won nine of the last 10 meetings with WSU, but has lost five straight against Washington. The Huskies have claimed the last nine consecutive sets against the Trojans back to the NCAA regional final in 2013 at the Galen Center.
Senior outside hitter Samantha Bricio picked up her fourth Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honor in five weeks of action and leads the nation in points (6.22 pps) and aces (0.85 saps) per set. Senior middle blocker Alicia Ogoms was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week following a career-best nine blocks in the win at Stanford, and leads the league (2nd in the country) in blocks (1.72 bps). Ogoms is also third in the Pac-12 and 13th in the country for hitting percentage at .428.
WASHINGTON STATE (12-2, 1-1 Pac 12) had an 11-match winning streak snapped in a five-set loss to rival Washington as it opened conference play, but rebounded to get a 3-0 sweep over Utah. The Cougars have earned 3-0 victories in 11 matches this season. WSU leads the Pac-12 in service aces with 1.96 aces per set. Junior setter Haley McDonald has served 22 of those aces and ranks second in the Pac-12 (0.48 saps). MacDonald also has 492 assists (10.70 aps, third in the Pac-12) and is a worthy defender with 1.74 dps and 0.65 bps. The Cougars are led on offense by junior outside hitter Kyra Holt (4.35 kps) who ranks fourth in the league in kills. On defense, senior libero Kate Sommer is third in the Pac-12 for digs (4.43 dps) and freshman middle blocker Claire Martin ranks sixth for blocks (1.33 bps). WSU is the Pac-12's fourth-best blocking team at 2.88 blocks per set and is led by fifth-year head coach and alumna Jen Greeny who has a 65-78 record since she returned to the Palouse. The Trojans have won nine of the last 10 meetings against the Cougars and dropped only a five-set decision at WSU in 2013. USC leads the all-time series, 46-13, and is 27-2 in home matches.
NO. 5 WASHINGTON (12-0, 2-0 Pac 12) has won all 12 of its matches this season and claimed 3-0 sweeps in all but two of its victories; a 3-1 win at Oklahoma and a 3-2 win at Washington State. The Huskies are under the direction of first-year head coach Keegan Cook who took over following the departure of Jim McLaughlin. Washington leads the Pac-12 in hitting percentage (.361) and opponent hitting percentage (.107) and is third in assists (13.31 aps), kills (14.31 kps), blocks (2.97 bps), and service aces (1.59 saps). The Huskies get 3.53 kps from sophomore outside hitter Courtney Schwan who ranks ninth in the league. Schwan is fifth in hitting percentage (.415) and is one of three Huskies in the top five, which includes the Pac-12 leader in senior middle Lianna Sybeldon (.497). Fellow senior middle blocker Melanie Wade is second in the conference for blocks (1.49 bps) and fourth in hitting percentage (.416), and senior libero Cassie Strickland ranks fifth in the conference for digs at 3.79 dps. USC has dropped the last five meetings with Washington, but still leads the all-time series, 38-24. The Trojans are 4-6 in the last 10 meetings with UW and last won in five sets at home in 2012.
LAST TIME OUT: The Trojans endured their first five-set match of the season and emerged victorious in a come-from-behind win at Stanford's Maples Pavilion, 26-24, 19-25, 20-25, 25-17, 15-13. The win was USC's fifth over a ranked opponent (all in the top 13 at the time of meeting) and brought the Trojans a 14-0 record, which is the program's best start to a season since the 2006 squad went 17-0 to open the year. USC knocked off the Farm for the sixth time in 10 meetings behind a career-high 34.0 points from Samantha Bricio who had 27 kills and 10 digs for her fourth double-double of the season (45th of her career). In the process, Bricio moved into fifth place at USC for career kills (1,655) and later secured her fourth Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week award in five weeks. Alicia Ogoms was the Trojans' defensive catalyst as she put up a career-high nine blocks against the Cardinal. Junior libero Taylor Whittingham led the team with 15 digs in the match, and junior setter Alice Pizzasegola had a season-best 34 assists. The Trojans fell behind, 2-1, in the match, and registered their second-lowest hitting percentage of the season but came alive to take 8-1 and 6-1 leads in the fourth and fifth sets respectively en route to putting Stanford away.
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, Instagram, and Periscope by searching for @USCWomensVolley.
900 CLUB: Head coach Mick Haley is just five victories from reaching the elusive 900-win mark in NCAA Division I women's volleyball. He is third in career DI wins (895) among active coaches behind only Penn State's Russ Rose and Hawai'i's Dave Shoji. Haley is in his 32nd season as a Division I coach, but has 39 years of overall coaching experience and is 1,243-312-1 (.799) in all matches including men's and women's at Kellogg Community College.
USC VS. THE PAC: The Women of Troy have a 462-211-2 (.684) all-time record against teams from the Pac-12. In fact, USC has a winning record against 10 of its Pac-12 opponents, with Stanford the exception. The Trojans have never lost a match to conference foe Colorado in 10 meetings. In league play, the Women of Troy are 199-65 (.754) under head coach Mick Haley in the past 15 seasons.