Women’s volleyball preps to host Arizona schools

Senior libero Victoria Garrick has tallied 300 kills in the 2018 season. (Emily Smith | Daily Trojan)

After splitting games last weekend at home, the No. 15 women’s volleyball team is looking to take full advantage of home court this weekend as it faces No. 25 ASU on Friday and No. 23 Arizona on Sunday .

“We had  a weird game against Oregon,” head coach Brent Crouch said. “We weren’t slowing them down when they were in system offense, especially their middles. That’s been a theme for us in all our losses, so we want to take a step forward with that this weekend. Win or lose, we want to be shutting people down.”

The game against ASU offers another factor for the team to consider, as one of the ASU players is already very familiar with what it is like to play on the Galen Center court. Senior outside hitter Alyse Ford started her collegiate volleyball career at USC before transferring for her final season to play for the Sun Devils. At ASU she is currently averaging 3.02 kills per set. In her last season at USC, Ford ended with an average of 2.56 kills.

“Ford and I were in the same freshman class, so I was her teammate, I lived with her, roomed with her and I played with her for three years,”said senior libero Victoria Garrick. “It’ll be weird seeing her in a different jersey, but I’m happy she’s happy and thriving on that team. I’m just excited to play her because I played against her in practice for three years.”

On the defensive front, the Women of Troy average 1.9 to 2 blocks per set and have only totaled 12 to their opponents 30 solo blocks. USC also averages the same number of digs as its opponents with 15.7 per set.

The Trojans plan to improve their defense this weekend.

“You’ve gotta get good at the things you do,” Crouch said. “[Tuesday] we were just reviewing our defense. We need to get better at our identity in our defense, so we’ve mostly been on that this week.”

Along with Ford, the Sun Devils’ junior outside hitter Ivana Jeremic is leading her team with an average of 3.67 kills per set. At Arizona, senior outside hitter Kendra Dahlke leads her team with an average of 5.17 kills per set. It will be up to the blockers and Garrick to hold down USC’s defense.

“Both of the Arizonas have been doing really well this season, which hasn’t been the case previously,” Garrick said. “It’ll be challenging to play these new teams that the Arizona’s have built.”

The team is led by sophomore and junior outside hitters Brooke Botkin and Khalia Lanier, who are averaging 4.35 and 4.30 kills per set respectively.

Freshmen setter Raquel Lázaro has also been consistent with an average of 11.25 assists per set. Spending their practices on strengthening their defense and their offense with Botkin, Lanier and Lázaro, the Trojans are looking to prove they can do it all this weekend.

USC will host ASU at 7 p.m. Friday and Arizona at 1 p.m. Sunday.