After a successful weekend in the Rocky Mountains against Colorado and Utah, the Trojans face off against ASU Wednesday at the Galen Center in a 7 p.m. match. The No. 22 Women of Troy have regained their winning momentum by beating Colorado and Utah in four and five sets, respectively.
The Colorado win was the first conference win of the season, proving that the team’s hard work in practice is beginning to show on the court. Senior libero Taylor Whittingham had a great weekend, earning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honors.
“We’re such a balanced team right now that we’re spreading it out,” head coach Mick Haley said. “I’m sure we’re tough to deal with because you don’t know where to put your pressure on us.”
Freshman outside hitter Khalia Lanier tallied up 38 kills in both games last weekend, solidifying her dominant role on the team. Junior middle blocker Jordan Dunn, senior middle blocker Elise Ruddins and junior outside hitter Brittany Abercrombie continued to step up as key contributors as the Trojans advance through their season. The reintroduction of Whittingham on the court gave the Trojans a little more experience than they had been working with when she was out. This week, each player will be instrumental in winning against Arizona State on Wednesday and Arizona on Friday.
“We always have a battle with those guys. We’ve played a bunch of five-game matches,” Haley said. “We’ve won most of them, but we’ve lost a couple, and they always play us hard.”
Arizona State is 7-9 for the season and 0-4 in conference. Key players include senior outside hitter Cassidy Pickrell, who has the most kills on the team, with 16 in their last game against Utah State. Junior middle blocker Oluoma Okaro and senior outside hitter Maya McClendon will also play critical roles when the Sun Devils battle the Women of Troy. Sophomore setter Kylie Pickrell also helps leads the team’s offense.
The Sun Devils are known for being very athletic, especially the Pickrell Sisters. Both Cassidy Pickrell and McClendon had double doubles against Utah, despite ASU losing in five sets.
“They are as athletic as we are, so I think we’ll see a pretty athletic effort,” Haley said. “Serve and serve receive will be the real key to get control of the game, so we want to focus in that area.”
Serve receive is an area that the team has been working to control this whole season, in order to play better defense in general.
Arizona is 10-6 this year and 2-2 in conference. In their last game against Oregon, a 3-1 loss, redshirt junior middle blocker McKenzie Jacobson led the team with 16 kills. Senior libero Laura Larson had 23 digs, 10 assists and one ace.
“We usually take one game at a time, so we don’t get ahead of ourselves or get confused because sometimes the game plans are different,” Haley said.
The team typically focuses solely on the team they have ahead of them, so they will prepare for their matchup against the Wildcats beginning Thursday. This is advantageous for them because they will not be traveling at all this week, and will have ample time to prepare for the two games they have this week.
The Women of Troy will face off against Arizona State Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Galen Center. The game will be live on Pac-12 Networks. Friday’s game will be another home affair for the Women of Troy as they host the Arizona Wildcats. The game begins at 7 p.m.