With just one game left in the regular season, the No. 6 Women of Troy locked up a third place finish in the Pac-10 standings after defeating No. 23 Oregon and Oregon State on the road this weekend. This is the second time USC has beaten each of these teams this year.
USC (24-4, 13-4) started out strong at Oregon (18-10, 6-10) Saturday night, winning the first two sets, 25-19, 25-23, and moving out to an early 2-0 lead.
“I thought we intimidated them,” USC coach Mick Haley said. “We passed really well, and we hit with more firepower.”
But the lead didn’t last. Oregon battled back, largely thanks to outside hitter Alaina Bergsma, who led the team with 19 kills. The Ducks won the next two games, 25-21, 29-27, forcing the match to a fifth set.
“I think they had a spirited halftime talk and really came out on fire, and then we started to fade a little bit in our concentration,” Haley said, referring to his team’s youth. Haley has six freshmen on his team and played five of them on Saturday.
Saturday’s match marked the final game the Ducks will play at McArthur Court, and it was also the team’s Senior Night.
“They had reason to do all kinds of good things, and you know, we weathered through that and didn’t quit,” Haley said.
After going down 4-2 in the final set, USC went on a 4-1 run, giving the Women of Troy a 6-5 lead. They never looked back, ending the game on a 5-1 run and winning the fifth set and the match, 15-9.
Freshman outside hitter Falyn Fonoimoana led the Women of Troy with 22 kills while also posting seven digs.
“Falyn is really coming on as a quality passer, and that really makes us a lot better,” Haley said.
Saturday’s match largely paralleled USC’s other encounter with the Ducks this season. The Women of Troy went up 2-0 on Oct. 22 at home before Oregon came back and pushed the match to five sets. The Women of Troy prevailed in the final game 15-10.
“When we played [Oregon] at our place, we had the same trouble, so we’re gonna have to battle against these guys the next two years because they’re young too,” Haley said.
On Friday night, USC faced off against Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore., and for the second time this season, the Women of Troy came away with a three-set sweep of the Beavers, 25-22, 25-19, 25-17.
Junior outside hitter Alex Jupiter led the team with 10 kills. Freshman middle blocker Alexis Olgard recorded eight kills and one error, while junior middle blocker Lauren Williams had seven kills and zero errors. In the third game alone, the Women of Troy recorded 10 kills with just one unforced error.
Hitting errors — or more specifically a lack of hitting errors — was a big part of both matches for the Women of Troy this weekend. On Saturday, USC only recorded a total of 12 over the five sets.
“That’s less than three hitting errors a game. That’s an all-time record for this team,” said Haley, who later added, “I’m pretty pleased with what we’re doing, and the reduction of errors makes me feel really good.”
With the season coming to a close, every victory is huge for the Women of Troy.
“Any time you win, it helps your confidence, but they also get us closer to a very good bid in the NCAA tournament placement-wise,” Haley said.
The Women of Troy are certainly making a statement with their recent impressive play as they have won 10 of their last 11 matches.
“We’re right on task right now,” Haley said. “We’re getting better at the right time.”
The Women of Troy will play their final match of the regular season Friday at UCLA.