The No. 8 USC women’s volleyball team looks to continue its winning ways when it faces the Virginia Cavaliers Friday at 7 p.m.
The Women of Troy have been nearly unstoppable so far this year. This past weekend, they won the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic with three wins, highlighted by their upset victory over No. 4 Hawaii in five sets Sunday.
Virginia is off to a strong start as well. The Cavaliers are currently 5-1 and began the year 5-0 for the first time since 2003. They have already won two tournaments, a feat the Trojans have also achieved this season.
Head coach Mick Haley admits he does not know exactly what to expect from Virginia, but regardless of what the Cavaliers do, he strongly feels the Trojans will be able to benefit from the opposing style of play.
“I think [Virginia] might be using two setters and six hitters, so that’s basically a 6-2 offense, and it allows them to run a lot of movement against our block, which would be great for us if they do that because we really need to practice against that,” said Haley. “I think we can accommodate though if we do the things that we need to do on our side of the net and continue to improve.”
Defense, along with passing and serving, have been the key items the Women of Troy have been focusing on. Fortunately, with conference play still a couple weeks away, the team still has plenty of time to improve.
“If we work hard in practice every day, if we can get better in the practice gym, we have a chance to be very good this year,” said Haley.
One of the team’s biggest strengths so far is its depth. Haley has had the luxury of using 14 players in matches so far this season. And the team is not only deep — it is also very young. The current roster includes six freshmen, a truth that may prove to be a factor in this weekend’s matchup.
“I think Virginia’s still young in that they had two good recruiting classes, so our freshmen against their freshmen and sophomores ought to be a pretty interesting battle,” Haley said.
Overall, regardless of any defensive struggles or inexperienced players the Trojans may have, Haley’s outlook on the team’s upcoming match only seems positive.
“I think it’ll be a good battle, but I feel, I feel good about where we are right now, and I feel good about playing Virginia this weekend,” said Haley.
He certainly has reasons to be confident. After the Trojan tournament victory in Hawaii, junior outside hitter Alex Jupiter was awarded with Pac-10 and National Player of the Week honors, providing the Women of Troy with another reason to feel good about their chances this season.
“I think you don’t want to miss watching this team, to tell you the truth, because every week is going to be something different I think, and you’re going to see somebody else step up, and I hope that happens because we’ll get to be a great team if everybody takes the challenge,” Haley said.