The No. 7 USC women’s volleyball team (10-0) looks to complete a perfect nonconference season tonight as it heads to Irvine, Calif., to face off against UC Irvine at 7 p.m.
Despite having just completed the Fresno State Invitational last weekend — where the Women of Troy swept Fresno State, Cal State Bakersfield and Sacramento State — USC coach Mick Haley does not seem worried about his team playing on such short rest. Part of this confidence stems from the fact that many of his players were rotated into this weekend’s matches, and his team is not suffering from many injuries.
“We need to go win down at Irvine on Tuesday night, and then we’ll open the conference Friday night at Galen Center with the Bruins,” Haley said. “I think we’ve got time to get ready for all of that.”
Prior to this weekend’s games, Haley was asked how he felt about his team having to play four games in just five days. Although he did express some concern, he justified the hectic schedule, saying he recognized how deep his team is and wanted to challenge his players while also giving more of them the opportunity to get into some games.
Freshman outside hitter Falyn Fonoimoana said she did not believe the team would be fatigued when it came time to face the Anteaters Tuesday.
“We’ll be ready for Irvine because we take each opponent as a respectable team and I think we’re gonna be ready to take another step further to get us to conference,” Fonoimoana said.
Throughout the season, Haley has stressed defense as the area the team needs to work on in practice. Although Fonoimoana recognizes this as well, she also said the Women of Troy need to focus on fundamentals in order to prepare for Tuesday’s game.
“I think you can never be too good at the little things right now, and I think that’s a good motto for us right now,” Fonoimoana said.
Fonoimoana is one of the players to watch in Tuesday’s match. The freshman recorded 32 kills over the span of three games last weekend. Saturday night against Sacramento State, she earned her first collegiate double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs.
Other players to keep an eye on include junior setter Kendall Bateman, who had 102 assists in the Fresno State Invitational, including 39 against Sacramento State. Freshman middle blocker Alexis Olgard recorded eight kills of her own that game. Olgard and Fonoimoana are just two of six freshmen currently playing on Haley’s roster.
UC Irvine is coming off a loss Saturday to UCLA at home. The team has also lost to Hawai’i this season, a team USC defeated in one of its first matches of the season. UC Irvine currently sits with a record of 4-7, while the Women of Troy have swept their last four opponents and eight out of 10 so far this season.