Behind the strong play of sophomore outside hitter Alex Jupiter, the No. 16 USC women’s volleyball team (3-1) swept its third straight match (25-22, 25-19, 25-15) of the young season, defeating Florida Gulf Coast (1-3) to open the Holiday Inn LA City Center Trojan Invitation at the Galen Center.
Jupiter took charge in the 3-0 sweep, landing 16 kills and blocking two shots in a match where the Women of Troy seemed to get better as each minute went by.
“We were going too fast early. We were too excited,” coach Mick Haley said of his team during its home opener. “We just came out and tried a little too hard early.”
After the first game, one in which USC and the Eagles combined for nine ties and six lead changes before the Women of Troy pulled away, Haley’s team dominated the rest of the way behind Jupiter.
“She’ll continue to get better. She’s just a whole different player right now,” Haley said. “We really like the way she’s blocking and serving.”
Senior outside hitter Jessica Gysin chipped in with five kills and 12 digs for the Women of Troy, and sophomore setter Kendall Bateman continued to set the table USC as she piled up 35 assists.
On the opposite side, junior outside hitter Jelena Simic carried the Eagles, firing 11 kills and blocking one shot, but it wasn’t enough for Florida Gulf Coast, which has lost three of its first four matches to start the season.
USC shot .287 compared to the Eagles’ .092.
After dropping the first match of the season 3-2 to Michigan State last weekend, the Women of Troy have responded with three consecutive sweeps over North Carolina, Albany and the Eagles.
“We have to just know that we didn’t play very well in the first match, and we’d like to keep this going, but we know it’s going to be very tough,” Haley said.
The Women of Troy continue tournament play tomorrow at 7 p.m. against No. 21 Pepperdine at the Galen Center. Pepperdine should provide USC with its toughest match to this point in the season.
“They always give us a battle,” Haley said.
Following tomorrow’s game, USC will wrap up the tournament facing Northern Arizona on Saturday at 10 a.m.