After playing 10 of 11 of its last games on the road, the women’s volleyball team will finally host its next four games at Galen Center. Currently undefeated at home (4-0), the No. 12 Trojans will have their first set of home games that will test home court advantage against Oregon State on Thursday and Oregon on Sunday.
“Having that fan base at home is really easy to play in and get pumped up for,” sophomore outside hitter Brooke Botkin said. “On the road you’re tired, your sleep schedule is messed up and then you have to perform in front of people who are cheering against you.”
They plan to use the home energy to drive their game.
“There is absolutely an advantage in playing at home,” head coach Brent Crouch said. “Who knows what that is, if it’s rest, or if it’s just more in your comfort zone, or that you’ve got people cheering for you instead of against you?”
The Trojans average 14.0 kills, 13 assists and 1.6 aces per set, while their opponents are averaging 13.5 kills, 12.7 assists and 1.1 aces per set. The averages may not appear to be that decisive, but aces and kills can especially impact a game.
“In terms of getting the kind of wins we want and what the scores should look like, we spent a lot more time on that [on Monday] and we will in the next few days to hopefully get back to where we were,” Crouch said.
Serving alone will not stop either team from attempting to take control of Galen Center. Oregon State will come in with fire as it seeks its first Pac-12 conference win after falling in its first four games. With sophomore libero Grace Massey locking in the Beavers defense with 290 digs already this season, it will be up to USC’s hitters to find the holes and capitalize on them when they can.
“What we do before every match is we show our team how they’re going to defend certain play types, and all of our hitters know these are the shots that are going to score,” Crouch said. “If [they are] in trouble they have their outs … they know [they] can put it here and it is going to create a lot of trouble.”
After taking on Oregon State, the Trojans will then regroup and face Oregon, which is currently 2-2 in conference play. Oregon will pose a different challenge than Oregon State as the Ducks’ two leading hitters rival the numbers of USC’s own. For the Trojans, outside hitters sophomore Brooke Botkin and junior Khalia Lanier have had 246 and 238 kills, respectively, this season. While the Trojans’ stats still dominate, Ducks’ junior middle blocker Ronika Stone and senior outside hitter Lindsey Vander Weide have tallied up 164 and 163 kills, respectively.
“They usually run a fast offense with a lot of combinations, so serving is the answer for that,” Crouch said. “I just want to serve them tough enough so they can’t run any of that stuff.”
While Oregon State is unranked and Oregon is ranked No. 20, these are still important games.
“We want to play the same regardless of what the ranking is or what the standings are,” Crouch said. “I think every team in the Pac-12 can beat any other team [on] any given night. Everybody’s really good, so we talk about trying to maintain that level of consistency and the same energy level.”