Women’s volleyball ends season as Pac-12 champions

Senior night · Senior outside hitter Samantha Bricio celebrates her team’s 30th win of the season with her coach on senior night. - Mariya Dondonyan | Daily Trojan

Senior night · Senior outside hitter Samantha Bricio celebrates her team’s 30th win of the season with her coach on senior night. – Mariya Dondonyan | Daily Trojan

It was an eventful Thanksgiving weekend for the USC women’s volleyball team, which not only captured a Pac-12 Conference championship on Senior Day, but also received the No. 1 overall seed in the upcoming 2015 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship. The Women of Troy (30-2) won their eighth overall conference title on Friday and will carry that momentum into this week when they host Cleveland State on Thursday in the first round of the tournament at the Galen Center.

Senior Day for the Trojans turned into a championship celebration on Friday after they notched their 30th victory of the season with a 25-11, 25-21, 25-19 sweep over Cal. The win secured USC’s share of the Pac-12 Championship after they ended with an 18-2 record in conference play. The Women of Troy finish tied for first in the Pac-12 with Washington after being picked to finish fifth by league coaches in a preseason poll.

In addition, USC’s three seniors, Samantha Bricio, Alicia Ogoms and Eve Ettinger, were all honored in pre-match ceremonies against the Bears. Though Bricio and Ogoms have been mainstays in the USC lineup since they came to Troy in 2012, Ettinger was a member of last year’s AVCA Sand National Championship team and was part of the 2011 indoor team that won the program’s last        Pac-12 title.

Ogoms, one of the nation’s leading blockers, once again showed her dominance at the net against Cal by recording a    match-high five blocks to go along with seven kills on a .600 hitting percentage. Offensively, Bricio led all players with 16 kills on just 32 swings, while adding two aces and two blocks to finish with 19.0 points on the day.

“It was amazing to win the conference with my team, and with our families being here, I thought it was even more special,” Bricio said. “Finishing the regular season like this is just amazing.”

Furthermore, Bricio joined elite company when she became the first Trojan and just the seventh player in conference history to cross the 2,000th kill plateau. Her last kill of the match gave her 2,005 in her career and moved her ahead of Hana Cutura (Cal,     2006-09) for sixth place all-time in Pac-12 history.

Head coach Mick Haley was pleased that his team was able to end the season on a high note before heading into the tournament.

“We’ve been playing against ourselves for a couple of weeks and now I think we’ve just about played ourselves through that … We’re ready to get into the tournament and go after folks,” Haley said.

The Women of Troy did not have to wait long on Selection Sunday to hear their fate. USC earned the top seed in the 64-team field and will host the first and second rounds of the tournament at the Galen Center as part of the San Diego regional. The Trojans will face Horizon League champion Cleveland State (26-6) in their opener, marking just the second meeting all-time between the two programs. Should USC defeat the Vikings, they will play the winner of the Northern Arizona/San Diego match in the second round on Friday. Tipoff against Cleveland State begins this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Galen Center.