Capping off a tough weekend that saw seniors outside hitter Alex Jupiter, setter Kendall Bateman and middle blocker Lauren Williams playing their last regular season home game, the Women of Troy swept Arizona on Saturday after taking down Arizona State in four sets Friday night.
Senior Night was a little downplayed considering No. 1 USC (24-4, 19-2) will host the first round of the NCAA tournament, but being able to enjoy that plus winning the inaugural Pac-12 regular season championship made for a celebratory weekend for the Women of Troy.
“It was a very good week for us; the players are tired, but they really played hard and kept their focus throughout the weekend,” USC coach Mick Haley said. “The seniors appreciated the attention and it worked out perfect for us plus having the football team win, while we were celebrating made it a great weekend to be part of USC.“
Saturday’s victory against Arizona was USC’s 19th victory in its last 20 matches and marked the 20th time this season that it won by sweeping its opponent 3-0.
In her final home game, Jupiter passed Jennifer Kessy to become USC’s career leader in kills, with .607 on 18 kills to go along with five digs, three blocks and two aces.
Bateman turned in another 40-assist performance during USC’s romp against the Wildcats and she quietly sits just 40 assists shy of tying the USC career record held by Janice Mounts. Bateman also connected with Williams for 10 kills without a hitting error versus Arizona.
Madison Kingdon and Courtney Karst each finished the match with 10 kills, for the Wildcats (18-11, 10-10).
On Friday, the top-ranked Women of Troy took down an upstart Arizona State squad in four sets.
Just a night before their last home game, Jupiter, Bateman and Williams showed once again how valuable they are to the team. Led by a match-high 17 kills from Jupiter, which also included nine digs and four blocks, USC had its hands full trying to keep up with a Lady Sun Devils team that had four players with at least 10 kills.
Bateman attributed for 53 assists in the match as she outdueled Arizona State’s Shannan McCready, who also put in a strong effort with 48 assists.
In the second set, Arizona State took down the Women of Troy thanks to a 4-1 run to end the game, marking just the third time USC has recorded a victory that did not result from a 3-0 score.
Sophomore Alexis Olgard registered 20 kills over the weekend, including an error-free match against Arizona, and she continues to emerge as a viable option alongside Williams in the middle.
“Olgard is getting her legs now and starting to feel good and its really important for us that she continues to develop,” Haley said. “Once we have two middles who are 6-foot-5 hammering the ball down it becomes really hard for our opponents to handle.”
With two weeks to train for a neutral-site match against UCLA, the Women of Troy can rest up and mentally prepare for a deep NCAA tournament run.
“We want to keep getting better and stay focused as any improvements we can make give us the best possible chance in this tournament,” Haley said. “For us, it’s the focus that remains the most important thing.”