USC wins first round matchup
The USC women‚Äôs volleyball team stomped Fairfield in the first round of the NCAA tournament at the Galen Center Thursday night, moving on to play St. Mary‚Äôs tomorrow in the next round.
The Women of Troy throttled an overmatched Stags squad in three straight games (25-8, 25-11, 25-10), who didn‚Äôt have the height or skill level to compete against the heavily favored home team.
‚ÄúI really like what our team is doing and we‚Äôve done almost all the hard work and now we are just looking to get better, we have six games and anything less than that will be disappointing,‚ÄĚ USC coach Mick Haley said after the match.
In the first set, the Women of Troy roared out to a commanding 6-0 lead as Fairfield seemed overwhelmed by the moment and the height of USC‚Äôs frontline. Freshman Samantha Bricio recorded four kills in USC‚Äôs first seven points in the match and she ended the 25-8 victory with seven total.
The Women of Troy also got strong contributions out of juniors Sara Shaw and Alexis Olgard. Both players notched three kills in the set, and Olgard spearheaded a spirited effort at the net as USC recorded three team blocks and five overall.
Fairfield came out of the gates in the second set looking more confident in its stride.
The Women of Troy, however, turned a 3-3 tie into a rout with their lead ballooning to 13-3 early on. Behind a well-rounded attack led by sophomore setter Hayley Crone, USC put in a dominating performance on the offensive end. Katie Fuller lead the way with five kills in the set to go along with two service aces and a pair of blocks.
Despite the score, Fairfield continued to show life throughout the set behind sparkplug setter Rachel Romansky. Even with Romansky‚Äôs hustle plays, the Stags couldn‚Äôt survive with only four kills in the set, and fell 25-11.
USC had a whopping 16 kills and .625 hitting percentage in both of the first two sets.
Fairfield stayed within a few points of USC early on in the the third set and got as close as 8-5.
After a timeout down 13-6, Fairfield could see the match slipping away after a kill by Katie Fuller. The Women of Troy would pull away despite another timeout from Fairfield, winning easily 25-10.
Samantha Bricio ended with a game-high 16 kills as she tacked on four digs. Katie Fuller and Sara Shaw tied for second on the team with nine kills as well.
Though she didn‚Äôt blow up the stat sheet despite a game-high 13 digs, Sara Shaw played an excellent match and seemed to be everywhere the Women of Troy needed her to be throughout the three matches.
‚ÄúShe was a nickel-and-dime actor tonight, she played great defense in the first game, passed extremely well in all three game and then hitting was effortless, it really was a masterful performance by her,‚ÄĚ Haley said. ‚ÄúSometimes she goes unnoticed she lacks the quickness attribute of some of the other players, but she is a three-year starter. She‚Äôs always right on the spot and never gets frustrated, she‚Äôs just a player no matter the situation.‚ÄĚ
The Women of Troy are set to face off against St. Mary‚Äôs in the second round at the Galen Center on Friday night. The Gaels took down a tough San Diego State team winning a five-set thriller prior to USC‚Äôs match.
‚ÄúWe are in no way looking past this St Mary‚Äôs team. They play a style of volleyball that‚Äôs a little bit different and fun, they‚Äôre smaller and quicker and they take advantage of things they do well,‚ÄĚ Haley said. ‚ÄúThey know how to win and we have a lot of respect for St. Mary‚Äôs.‚ÄĚ
With a tough game at home Friday night, the Women of Troy will look to continue to build up the confidence they need to make a strong run at their second consecutive Final Four and that elusive fourth national championship.