The No. 5 USC women’s volleyball team is undefeated so far this season, but it faces a big test this weekend when it plays its first conference games away from the Galen Center.
The Women of Troy will play the No. 10 Washington Huskies tonight before heading to Pullman, Wash., to compete against Washington State on Saturday. Both games will start at 7 p.m.
USC is coming off an impressive win against crosstown rival UCLA last Friday in four sets, which moved the Women of Troy to 1-0 in the Pac-10.
Despite his team’s success, USC coach Mick Haley is not overlooking either of this weekend’s games.
“I look for a very tough match at Washington and I don’t know what to expect at Washington State yet, so this is a hard trip for us,” Haley said. “This’ll tell us a bit more about this group.”
All season, USC has been able to celebrate the youth of its team, as six players on the current roster are freshmen. However, this could potentially prove to be a slight disadvantage against the Huskies.
“I think [the Huskies] are a bit more organized than we are at this point because they have the same players back,” Haley said, adding that Washington only has one new player in its starting lineup this year, and that player was a redshirt last season.
The last time the Women of Troy won in Seattle was 2004. Overall, USC has lost three of the last four matches against Washington.
Unlike the Huskies, Washington State’s season thus far has not put the Women of Troy on high alert. The Cougars are unranked and are 6-6 on the season, with a conference record of 0-2.
The Women of Troy, however, are not going to take their opponent lightly, knowing that the Cougars swept USC just last year in Pullman.
“It’s always tough playing in Pullman,” Haley said. “We have to travel on the same day that we play. We have to fly over to Pullman Saturday morning and then get ready to play that night, so it’s a really focused match for us.”
Haley did not get into too many specifics regarding either team, possibly because he does not want to put too much focus on the opponents. He would rather have his players concentrate on themselves, he said.
“I’m anxious to see how we do because that will let me know where we are and what to focus on,” Haley said. “But I really think we have to keep thinking about our side of the net and what we’re doing.”
In a conference where six teams are ranked and wins are hard to come by, Haley said he recognized how significant it would be for his team to come away with wins this weekend.
“One, it helps us, of course, with self confidence, but two, every one you can steal on the road gives you a better chance to finish higher in the conference,” Haley said. “It’s a tug of war. It just goes back and forth with all the teams like this.”