Women’s volleyball prepares for top-ranked Cardinal and Cal

The No. 8 USC women’s volleyball team is 13-1, but with a recent loss to Washington still in the back of the players’ minds, they are more determined than ever to have two strong matches this weekend.

That will not necessarily be easy, as the Women of Troy will host two undefeated teams at the Galen Center. They face No. 1 Stanford tonight at 7 p.m. before playing No. 7 California at the same time on Saturday.

Distinguished - Senior outside hitter Geena Urango and the Women of Troy have enjoyed a 13-1 season so far, but their talents will be put to the test this weekend at the Galen Center as they face two higher-ranked teams. - TIm Tran | Daily Trojan

Despite the high level of competition the team will face, the Women of Troy have focused on their own game, rather than on the skills of their opponents.

“We just want to reinforce the things we do well and kind of work on the things that we haven’t done so well and make sure that we get good concentration the whole week,” USC coach Mick Haley said.

In tonight’s match, the Women of Troy will have to try and contain Stanford outside hitter Alix Klineman, who already has 239 kills this season. USC has lost five-straight matches to the Cardinal and is hoping to break that trend.

“We’re really pretty evenly matched,” Haley said. “I think they’re playing the game a little bit better than we are right now, so we need to step up in that regard.”

In terms of Saturday’s matchup against Cal, when asked about the Bears’ play, Haley did not have much to say about the team’s make-up — except to classify the Golden Bears as “strange” — but praised them for their abilities.

“The combination of kids they have makes for them to have a very nice team, and I think we need to find out what they’re all about,” Haley said.

In a conference that is stacked with six ranked teams, this weekend is just one of many that will have the Women of Troy playing multiple competitive matches — a difficult task, especially for a team that currently has six freshmen seeing playing time.

Despite the conference grind, Haley does not seem too concerned about his team’s focus.

“This team seems to still be having fun. They like to get up there and battle every day in practice with each other, so I think we’re in good shape,” Haley said. “I think the motivation to win every match is where we’re at.”

In preparing for this weekend, as well as for the rest of the season, Haley stressed how the team is mainly focused on improving in areas such as blocking and returning serves while at the same time maintaining its strengths.

“Our ace to error ratio is very good with our serving,” Haley said. “So if we can keep that right there and not let the intensity of the matches bother that, then we’re going to win, or we’re going to play as good as we can play, and that should give us a chance to win.”