USC gears up before conference play

After a grueling four-day training and practice session, the USC women’s volleyball team is looking to continue its winning streak this weekend, starting with Friday’s match against Portland, which they will host at the Galen Center at 7 p.m. and finishing on Saturday at 7 p.m. against Fresno State.

The Women of Troy have been coming out to play pretty consistently, and, as a result, haven’t lost a match since their first tournament match against Michigan State. Coach Mick Haley isn’t using that as an excuse to relax, however.

Impressive · Geena Urango’s play drew the praise of Mick Haley. - Brandon Hui | Daily Trojan

Impressive · Geena Urango’s play drew the praise of Mick Haley. - Brandon Hui | Daily Trojan

“We’ve got conference next week so this is our last chance to fine tune,” Haley said. “I’ve worked them really hard this week, and although [the girls] don’t really like the practice, but they love the playing, and the play opportunities for all of them are wonderful.”

Haley said they are adopting a new approach to their normal lineup, switching positions of some key players (though he didn’t say who or where), getting others more playing time and giving things a fresh perspective for Friday’s game.

That is not to say that Haley is displeased with the Women of Troy’s current performance.

“The middles are coming on, all three of them,” Haley said. “So I’d like to rotate them in this weekend, and Kendall [Bateman] has been stellar at setting them the ball. Of course Alex Jupiter continues to be great, and Geena Urango got 17 kills last game, so I’m pretty happy with their play.”

In addition to switching some player positions, he’s planning on changing up the defense as well.

“We’d like to look maybe at the possibility at running a two-setter system,” he said. “We need to get some more players more play time, but we just haven’t been able to do that and feel comfortable in winning matches, so hopefully this weekend we can work that in.”

The Women of Troy do not know exactly what to expect from the Portland squad since their video footage was unusable due to poor quality. But that hasn’t swayed the Women of Troy; they’ve simply upped their practice game in an effort to be ready for anything that comes their way.

“We’ve been working on some things, but we don’t know what we’re in for with either team we play this weekend,” Haley said. “Both have had moments where they play well, so they’ll both be good games.”

Haley did say that he thinks Fresno State will be the harder game to win, but that he is confident that USC can take whatever preparation either team comes with and turn it around for another two victories.

“I don’t know what we’re in for, so I just have to pay attention to our side of the net,” Haley said. “They’re good opponents who will play hard.

“Everyone wants to come in and beat us, and we appreciate that,” Haley added. “We’ll just take their best effort and see if we can turn it into good things for us.”