Road-weary Women of Troy travel one last time
The No. 15 USC womenâs volleyball team faces a familiar foe this weekend: the road.
Having won only one conference match away from the Galen Center all season, the Women of Troy (17-9, 6-8) are looking to build momentum as they head to Oregon to take on the Ducks and the Beavers in their final Pac-10 road matches of 2009.
Trying to build off last weekendâs home wins against then-No. 4 Washington and then-No. 25 Washington State, USC will try to piece together another balanced attack and post a third-straight win in its match against the Ducks (16-8, 6-8) in Eugene, Ore., tonight at 7 p.m.
USC swept Oregon on Oct. 24 at the Galen Center (26-24, 25-23, 30-28), but the Ducks have won two straight over the Women of Troy in Eugene.
The Ducks, coming off losses to No. 7 Stanford and No. 12 Cal last weekend, will look to right their ship behind senior outside hitter Sonja Newcombe and senior setter Nevena Djordjevic. Newcombe leads the team with 360 kills and 239 digs.
USC, however, will look to sophomore outside hitter Alex Jupiter, who has compiled 413 kills for a 4.39 kills per set average, to cancel out Newcombeâs production.
Djordjevic provides a challenge to the Women of Troy as well. She is second among Pac-10 players with 1,051 assists (12.08 aps).
USC sophomore setter Kendall Bateman, who has racked up 1,150 assists (12.23 aps), will look to lead her team to victory by setting it up with more opportunities to score than Djordjevic.
Although USC looked strong at home last weekend against two tough opponents, USC coach Mick Haley knows his team still has a lot to prove away from the friendly confines of the Galen Center.
âWeâre starting to get our confidence back,â Haley said. âPlaying at home definitely helps. But winning on the road is essentially the way you get ahead in this conference.â
Following tonightâs contest, the Women of Troy take on the Beavers in Corvallis, Ore. Saturday at 7 p.m.
Oregon State (12-14, 3-11) is one of only three Pac-10 teams not ranked in the top 25, and the Beavers have struggled mightily in the conference thus far.
USC swept Oregon State on Oct. 23 at the Galen Center (25-17, 25-15, 25-22) and leads the all-time series by a 39-8 margin. Additionally, the Women of Troy have won 24 of their past 25 matches against the Beavers.
Oregon Stateâs biggest strength is its blocking. Averaging 2.9 blocks per set, the Beavers lead the conference in blocks mainly because of to the strong play of senior outside hitter Rachel Rourke and junior outside hitter Jill Sawatzky. Rourke leads her team with 465 kills (4.84 kps), 168 digs (1.75 dps) and 64 blocks. Sawatzky has 304 kills, 246 digs and 57 blocks.
With two tough road matches remaining, the Women of Troy have two more opportunities to show they can win on the road and earn a higher ranking heading into the NCAA Tournament.
âThis is a test for us to overcome some pretty good opponents who play well at home,â Haley said. âItâs a challenge to see if we can relax and play up to our level on the road and see if we can get a couple wins.â