The USC women’s volleyball team looks to begin the year on a high note as it hosts the Luxe City Center Trojan Invitational at the Galen Center this weekend.
The No. 10 Women of Troy face a full slate of matches, as they play three games in two days. They will first take on Loyola Marymount on Friday night, before playing both Bucknell and Cal State Fullerton on Saturday at 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively.
USC will compete against schools that the current squad has little experience playing. The Women of Troy have never faced Bucknell, have not squared off with Fullerton since 1989 and last played LMU in 2007. But that is not to say that USC’s historical success against these schools is lacking — USC has never lost to either Fullerton or LMU, holding an all-time record of 21-0 against the Titans and 7-0 against the Lions.
Nevertheless, the Women of Troy continue to work hard to prepare for all three non-conference opponents.
“We’ve been doing really good scrimmaging against ourselves, trying to just get better every day and every game and make sure we push through and go hard,” said junior outside hitter Alex Jupiter. “We’re a lot more competitive and complete, so we’re just very excited to see what we can do against different opponents.”
Despite the high expectations that remain for the Women of Troy, the team comes into 2010 looking much different than last year. One major change this season is the addition of six new freshmen — and so far the bevy of new talent has proven to be an added bonus for the Trojans.
“It did change the chemistry of the team, and right now it’s for the best,” Jupiter said. “We want to make sure that we can all compete together and really find that team bonding when we’re in trouble against opponents.”
Senior co-captain Geena Urango shared Jupiter’s praise for the team’s newcomers.
“They’re bringing tons of energy to the court,” Urango said. “I’m so happy to have them on the team.”
Even with a top-10 ranking and the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, the Women of Troy will still not have an easy time in the Pac-10. Seven of the conference’s 10 teams are entering the season with a top 25 ranking, making it that much more crucial for the Women of Troy to come away with wins early on in the season.
“It’s definitely important to do well,” Urango said. “That helps confidence-wise. Going into the Pac-10, you know it’s going to be a lot of tough matches, and winning at home is also very, very important.”
If the Women of Troy are able to come away with at least one win this weekend, they will help make history for coach Mick Haley. With 999 career victories in women’s collegiate volleyball, he is just one away from an impressive milestone — one his players would love to help him reach.
“That’s something that not many coaches have, so hopefully we get it for him,” Urango said.