The women’s volleyball team won all three matches at the Radisson Classic tournament this weekend at the Galen Center to claim the title, recovering from a sweep last week at the USC Baden Invitational.
On Friday, the Trojans defeated the University of Kentucky in three sets and on Saturday the University of Northern Iowa in four and Creighton University in five.
“Last week I felt so bad for them,” head coach Mick Haley said. “They just tried too hard and when you try too hard sometimes, you can’t do anything. Sometimes you just have to go through this stuff until you grow.”
Last weekend was rough for the Women of Troy as their starting setter positions were undecided, passing was weak and service and hitting errors were high. However, the Trojans came out strong against the University of Kentucky and were able to maintain their energy and attack all throughout the tournament with the help of their hitters.
“We have an increased output from [junior outside hitter] Brittany Abercrombie, which is really nice to see, and [sophomore outside hitter Alyse] Ford has picked it up now very nicely, as I thought she would,” Haley said.
With outside hitters juniors Niki Withers, Abercrombie and Ford contributing kills, it allowed the pressure to be eased up off of freshman outside hitter Khalia Lanier. Lanier still made a huge impact as she accomplished a double-double in every game this weekend, with a total of fifty kills and thirty-eight digs for the weekend, earning the Most Valuable Player of the tournament award.
“We had good production from all four outsides. That kind of production really helps us a lot because they can’t key in on Khalia,” Haley said. “Khalia is a freshmen carrying a heavy load, but Brittney, Withers and Ford really stepped up, so it is a team effort right now.”
While the Trojans’ passing was strong, it was really the setting that helped change the outcome of this tournament. Last tournament Haley was undecided on who would receive the starting positions as all four setters struggled with consistency. However, senior Alice Pizzasegola and junior transfer Reni Meyer-Whalley earned the slots during the week.
“You have to give Whalley and Pizzasegola a nice pat on the back because they have really picked it up from last week and they are running the team really nicely,” Haley said.
Every player did her part this weekend and contributed to the three victories. In fact, during USC’s second set against UNI, each Trojan on the court scored 1 point in a 6-point streak in the early stages of the set. There was excellent communication and the court and a fluidity that was lacking in the last tournament.
“We have a nice combination of people out on the floor right now,” Haley said.
USC battled back from both large point differences and lost sets against UNI and Creighton. While they were focused and determined, the team was able to stay relaxed as they were smiling and laughing on the court between plays.
“That comeback in the fourth set [against UNI] really is going to help our confidence,” Haley said. “That we can give up the third set like we did and come back and win the fourth set [is impressive].”
USC will head to Texas next weekend to play in the Rice Adidas Invitational against Sam Houston State on Friday, and Oakland University and Rice University on Saturday to conclude its preseason.