After defeating the defending champions, No. 3 Pepperdine University (6-2), in a 3-2 victory on Tuesday, the No. 1 ranked Women of Troy are set to face off against St. Mary’s and Cal State Bakersfield in Merle Norman Stadium.
The Women of Troy have a 7-0 record and are off to their best start in program history. This week, however, is extremely hectic for the Women of Troy as they have six duals on the schedule. After Thursday, the Women of Troy head to Arizona to play against New Mexico, Grand Canyon and Arizona State.
While this schedule may be tough, sophomore Sara Hughes has found a way to handle the rigors of the season.
“Since our season is so short it is brutal,” said Hughes. “It’s hectic and not easy but we have to go to the training room. We have to take ice baths and be in with our trainer. It’s all about up keeping our bodies and maintaining our health.”
While Hughes and her partner Kelly Claes have had an excellent start to the season winning the pairs tournament in Hawaii, they suffered their first loss of the season against Pepperdine.
Even though these upcoming opponents may not be highly ranked, head coach Anna Collier knows that they will be challenging.
“Both teams are going to be smaller and will rely more ball control,” said Collier. “We are used to teams who are big up front. They will drop a lot of different kind of strategies that we don’t see.”
Cal State Bakersfield has a 6-2 record, but their two losses came against Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount. Thus far the No. 1 pairing of redshirt senior Mariah Alvidrez and senior Molly O’Hagan has been very consistent, winning six games. While the Bakersfield Roadrunners only have one player over the height of six feet in sophomore Sydney Hayes, they make up for lack of height in their style of play. They are extremely reliable defensively, and they find ways to score points.
St. Mary’s has had a slow start to the season, with a 3-4 record. They began the year ranked No. 8 in the country but after two losing streaks, they have fallen out of the rankings. The Gaels utilize the strategy of having several players who play both indoor and sand volleyball. Unlike the Roadrunners, the Gaels have a number of players that are over six feet tall. Their top pairing senior Samantha Tinsley and junior Dalas Dodd are living up to the bill by winning six of their seven matches for Gaels this season.
One of the most crucial pairings for the Women of Troy is their No. 3 pair with graduate student Meg Norton and senior Eve Ettinger. Norton transferred from UCLA and continues to gel with her new teammate.
“I think we are still improving on team chemistry cause we are really good friends but we haven’t played together for very long, since I am new this year,” said Norton. “When we are connected in a match that is when we play our best.”
The first dual match on Thursday starts 3 p.m. against the CSU Bakersfield followed by another dual match at 4:30 p.m. against St. Mary’s.