Following the Women of Troy’s dominating performance this past weekend at the Trojan Invitational, two standouts earned Pac-12 weekly awards. Sophomore outside hitter Brooke Botkin was named Offensive Player of the Week, and freshman setter Raquel Lázaro was selected Freshman of the Week. These honors were career firsts for both players. While the undefeated weekend was a team effort, these two players carried the load.
Hailing from Pearland, Tex., Botkin had an outstanding performance over the weekend, boasting 19 kills against Kentucky and 25 against Creighton. Her defense remained consistent with 11 and 12 digs, respectively. In the grueling five-set victory over Creighton on Saturday night, she added two aces to help ultimately put the Women of Troy on top. Botkin had a total of 52 kills throughout the three matches with a .248 hitting percentage.
“[Botkin] is really going to have a big step forward from her freshman year,” head coach Brent Crouch said prior to the season opener. “It’s going to be really fun to watch her in that position.”
During the 2017 season, Botkin appeared in 22 matches, recording a total of 151 kills and four aces. In her best match that season, she had 20 kills and 10 digs for the first double-double of her career. She has already surpassed her best record from last season.
Lázaro made her college debut in the first match of the Trojan Invitational against the Kentucky Wildcats, stunning everyone in Galen Center with 55 assists. This marks the highest number of assists in a single match for the Trojans since Hayley Crone’s 58 assists in 2012. Against the Bluejays on Saturday night, she recorded her first career double-double with 53 assists and 22 digs. Throughout the weekend, she led the team to an impressive .248 hitting percentage and 175 kills.
From Soria, Spain, Lázaro played for the country’s national team for six years before coming to USC. She won two gold and four silver medals with the Spanish National Team. In 2017, she made eight appearances in the European League Championships. Lázaro hopes to bring her high-level experience to the Trojans this season, a task that she has already succeeded in.
The No. 7-ranked Trojans will travel to the University of Florida this weekend to compete in the Bubly Invitational Tournament, where their opponents include No. 4 Florida, UCF and Louisville. Botkin and Lázaro will continue to lead the team, along with junior outside hitter Khalia Lanier and senior libero Victoria Garrick. The Women of Troy are now looking to roll with their momentum and hold on to their undefeated season.