Sitting in a tie for third place in the conference, the Women of Troy were hoping to open the second half of the Pac-10 schedule with two wins at the Galen Center.
And that’s exactly what they did.
The No. 8 USC women’s volleyball moved to 8-3 in the Pac-10, beating Washington State on Friday night before coming back and defeating No. 7 Washington — the first team to hand the Women of Troy a loss earlier this season — on Saturday afternoon.
USC dominated in Friday night’s match, sweeping the Cougars in three sets, 25-14, 25-16, 25-15.
“I think we did pretty good,” USC coach Mick Haley said. “That was maybe the best of the focuses we’ve had because we were ahead in both of the first two games with good concentration and serving.”
Junior outside hitter Alex Jupiter recorded 12 kills, while sophomore outside hitter Katie Fuller had eight. Freshman middle blocker Alexis Olgard added seven kills in the match and hit .700 on the night.
“We played great as a team,” Olgard said. “We had a lot of energy.”
Haley praised his team’s strong execution in the match against Washington State, a team that was searching for its first conference win of the season.
“Washington State really brought a lot of heat on us [Friday]. I think they thought the second round they’ll come with a lot of top spin,” Haley said. “We were kind of ready for it.”
Sophomore middle blocker Natasa Siljkovic made her debut for the Women of Troy and recorded her first kill of the season in the second set.
“Natasa certainly got her feet wet, so that was good,” Haley said.
Friday’s match only lasted an hour and 17 minutes, something Haley thought could help the Women of Troy as they moved into Saturday’s match against the Huskies.
“That’s really good because that shouldn’t take very much out of us,” Haley said.
Saturday’s match, however, was a bit of a different story. The Huskies came out firing and took an early 16-6 lead in the first set before winning that game 25-15.
“[Washington] played really really well in the first set, and usually you can’t play five games that well. In fact, usually you can’t play three games that well,” Haley said.
Fortunately for the Women of Troy, that turned out to be the case, and USC was able to fight back.
Down 9-7 in the second set, USC went on a 7-0 run, helping the Women of Troy finish the set with a 25-17 victory. USC followed by winning the third set, 25-19.
“The key for us was to not get discouraged, to not lose our focus and just stay with it,” Haley said.
In the fourth set, the two teams found themselves in a 22-22 tie. Washington ended up winning the set thanks to a kill by middle blocker Bianca Rowland, who hit .500 on the night.
Late in a very intense fifth set, USC had a 14-13 lead on the Huskies. Jupiter dealt the final blow to Washington, recording her 30th kill of the night and helping USC win the fifth set, 15-13, and walk away with the victory.
“Alex was superb. No emotion — just kept dissecting them,” Haley said.
Freshman outside hitter Falyn Fonoimoana had a breakout game, recording a career-high 21 kills, while also adding eight digs and two aces.
“I think she grew up tonight. I think she’s now a different player. That’s the first time she’s carried the load for us,” Haley said of his freshman phenom, later adding, “She finished extremely good. That’s another step forward.”
The impressive play for USC did not stop at the number of kills the outside hitters recorded. Serving was another strong component of the team’s performance.
“We didn’t serve as accurately as we wanted to, but we served aggressively, and I was really pleased with how they went after the other team,” Haley said.
The Women of Troy will next head on the road to face California on Friday and Stanford on Sunday.