A different venue and a fresh divisional opponent once again proved to be just another speed bump for the USC women’s volleyball team, which is stringing together win after win in dominating fashion.
The American Volleyball Coaches’ Association No. 1-ranked Women of Troy traveled to the desert this week and made quick work of rival Arizona State, beating the Sun Devils 3-0 Friday night (25-17, 25-20, 25-15) to improve to 17-1 and match the 2006 squad for the best season-opening start in school history.
“It was a great win for us on our second week on the road,” USC head coach Mick Haley said. “Arizona State has had success against us and they’ve beaten us twice in the last three years at their place, so it was a good challenge for us. I thought we did a marvelous job of not letting them get the crowd into it.”
Junior middle blocker Hannah Schraer provided the Women of Troy a huge lift, notching 10 kills while hitting an outstanding .769 to pace a strong USC attack. Sophomore outside hitter Samantha Bricio also added 10 kills and rode her strong serve to five more service aces, marking the eighth time this season she has recorded at least three aces in a match. Defensively, senior middle blocker Alexis Olgard and freshman outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu combined for 14 blocks, while senior libero Natalie Hagglund led all players with 10 digs.
“It was a team effort. Some of the numbers weren’t good for some people, but that doesn’t tell the story in this match,” Haley said. “Nwanebu didn’t have great numbers but dominated on the right side. Bricio was really focused and on her game, and her serve was just stunning.”
After taking a 13-11 lead in the first set, USC pulled away and went up 21-14 on a Bricio ace. Olgard notched a kill to bring up set point at 24-17 before causing an ASU error that sealed the first set 25-17 for the visitors. The Women of Troy recorded 12 kills and a .375 hitting percentage in the first set while holding ASU to just .111 on offense.
The second set saw ASU take a 16-14 lead before USC applied the pressure to take the lead. Bricio tied things up at 16, and Nwanebu and Schraer blocked back-to-back shots for a 19-17 lead. Another USC block brought up match point at 24-20 after which the Sun Devils committed an error to conclude the set at 25-20.
As has been the norm this season, the Women of Troy made the last set their easiest, winning handily by 10 points. A Schraer kill put USC up 20-10 and freshman setter Alice Pizzasegola set up Olgard for a final kill that sealed the frame 25-15 and pushed USC to 7-0 in Pac-12 play.
“Arizona State was a little predictable and we executed our game plan amazingly well,” Haley said. “We’ll have a more difficult time defending against Arizona because they’re a better blocking team and they’ll try to take our setters out. We need to make sure that we’re focused and continue to execute our game plan on the road.”
The Women of Troy will conclude their four-game road trip against the Arizona Wildcats Sunday afternoon before returning home to play Washington and Washington State next weekend.
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