No. 1 Seed Trojans Get Bluejay Rematch in NCAA Regional Semifinal|
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Dec. 7, 2015
2015 NCAA DI Women's Volleyball Championship
Match #35 Regional Semifinal
Match #36 Regional Final (if necessary)
LOS ANGELES -- Top-seeded USC continues its quest for the program's seventh national title in San Diego where it will face 16th-seeded Creighton (27-8) in a regional semifinal matchup at Jenny Craig Pavilion on Friday, Dec. 11 (8 p.m. PT). The Women of Troy appear in the team's 13th NCAA regional semifinal since the tournament was expanded to 64 teams in 1998. USC has gone on to the regional final in 10 of the previous 12 times, and advanced to seven national semifinals.
Pac-12 co-champion USC makes its 25th consecutive appearance in the NCAA's championship tournament--the program's 33rd overall. Should the Trojans advance to the regional final, they will face either ninth-seeded Kansas (28-2) or upset-minded Loyola Marymount (24-8) on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 8 p.m. PT. The winner of the regional title advances to the national semifinals set for Thursday (Dec. 17) at Century Link Center in Omaha, Neb.
USC is 121-36 (.771) all-time in the postseason, with a 75-29 (.721) mark in the NCAA tournament. Including two title runs (2002, 2003), USC is 45-12 in the tourney under head coach Mick Haley, who reached 30 wins in a season for the 12th time in his NCAA DI career (17th overall). The Trojans will play an NCAA postseason match in the city of San Diego for the third time. USC also appeared there in 1984 when it defeated San Diego State in the West Regional semifinal before falling to Stanford.
CREIGHTON (27-8, 17-1 Big East) is the two-time defending Big East champion and advanced to the program's first-ever NCAA regional semifinal with a four-set win over North Carolina. The Bluejays were 6-7 entering conference play but have gone 22-1 since. Creighton produced a 12-match winning streak and is now on a 10-match run with a 3-2 decision on the road at Villanova accounting for the only loss. One of the Bluejays' pre-conference losses was to USC; a 3-0 score on Sept. 4 in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The Women of Troy are 2-0 all-time against Creighton including a 3-1 win over the Bluejays in Lexington, Ky., in the fall of 2014. Creighton gets most of its offense from freshman OH Jaali Winters who leads the team in kills (4.11 kps). Winters also averages 2.50 digs and 0.44 blocks per set, and has 18 service aces this season. Junior OH Jess Bird (2.82 kps), junior MB Lauren Smith (2.49 kps), and sophomore OPP Marysa Wilkinson (2.15 kps) are the other point scorers for the Bluejays. Smith (1.28 bps) and Wilkinson (0.95 bps) lead Creighton in blocks while senior libero Kate Elman (4.18 dps) leads the team in digs and service aces (32). Senior setter Maggie Baumert dishes out 11.51 assists per set and averages 0.88 blocks and 2.53 digs per set. 13th-year head coach Kirsten Berthal Booth (262-144; .645) has led the Bluejays to four straight NCAA tournament berths (five in six years) and has the most wins in Creighton history.
NO. 9 KANSAS (28-2, 14-2 Big XII) makes only its second appearance in the NCAA regional semifinals. The program first advanced this far in 2013 and played at Galen Center (0-3 to Washington). The Jayhawks are 7-6 all-time in the NCAA tournament but have been a national seed in each of the last four years. Kansas was 19-0 before suffering one of its two losses to Texas and was the only remaining undefeated team along with the Trojans in late October. Though it hosted the Jayhawks in 2013, USC has never faced Kansas on the volleyball court. The Jayhawks are led by 18th-year head coach Ray Bechard.
LOYOLA MARYMOUNT (24-8, 13-5 WCC) makes its second all-time appearance in the NCAA regional semifinals; the program's first since 1996. In the program's 13th NCAA tournament appearance (third under sixth-year head coach Tom Black), the Lions upset eighth-seeded Stanford in a 3-0 sweep to advance. USC is 8-0 in all-time meetings with LMU and has never dropped a set. The Trojans and the Lions last met in 2010 for the team's season openers. In 2003, USC defeated LMU in the second round of the NCAA tournament en route to the second of back-to-back championships. Both were 3-0 wins for the Women of Troy.
LAST TIME OUT: As the top seed in the NCAA tournament, the Trojans hosted first- and second-round matches for the 13th time in 14 years and earned a pair of wins over Cleveland State (3-1) and San Diego (3-0) to advance to the San Diego Regional Championship rounds. USC played its final matches of the season at the Galen Center and completed an 18-1 year at the arena. Senior OH Samantha Bricio led the way in both matches. She had 21 kills and hit .360 against CSU and added 14 digs for her 56th-career double-double. She then had 21 kills and hit .462 to go with three aces against the Toreros. Sophomore OPP Brittany Abercrombie had 10 kills against CSU and was one of four players in double-digit points. Senior MB Alicia Ogoms produced 11 kills and five blocks against USD. Junior MB Elise Ruddins had 14 kills and hit .583 with 13 bocks over the course of the two matches.
PAC IT UP TO GO: Senior OH Samantha Bricio was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year and head coach Mick Haley was chosen as the league's Coach of the Year (his second honor in five seasons; 2011). USC's third Pac-12 Player of the Year, Bricio is the second Trojan to receive Pac-12 All-Conference honors four times in her career (April Ross) and joined Ross as the only Women of Troy ever to be named the league's Freshman of the Year and then later earn Player of the Year honors. Senior MB Alicia Ogoms and sophomore OPP Brittany Abercrombie were also All-Pac-12 selections; setter Baylee Johnson and OH Alyse Ford were named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team. Ford, Johnson, junior MB Elise Ruddins, and junior libero Taylor Whittingham were All-Pac-12 honorable mentions.
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.
KILLED IT: Senior OH Samantha Bricio became USC's record holder for career kills on Thursday, Nov. 12, in a match against Oregon State in which she finished with 13 kills. Her final kill of the contest came off a pipe set from freshman setter Baylee Johnson and gave her 1,919 as she overtook the former record holder (Alex Jupiter, 2008-11). Bricio now has 2,047 career kills and is also the Trojans' record holder for points (2,493.5), attacks (5,376), and service aces (298). She is the Pac-12 record holder for career aces and currently ranks fifth in Pac-12 history for kills and is third in attacks.