Women of Troy take on weekend series in Arizona

After recording both a win and a loss in each of the last two weeks, the Women of Troy are hoping they can come away with two victories in Arizona this weekend.

Extra effort · Junior setter Kendall Bateman has helped lead the Women of Troy to a 14-2 record and an overall ranking of fifth this season. - Tim Tran | Daily Trojan

The No. 5 USC women’s volleyball team will play Arizona State tonight before facing No. 25 Arizona on Saturday. Both matches start at 7 p.m.

Last weekend, USC lost to then-No. 1 Stanford after winning the first set. The next night they lost a 2-0 lead and just barely squeaked out the win against then-No. 7 California in five sets.

When looking back at this inconsistent play, USC coach Mick Haley said one of the main problems is a lack of consistency.

“We struggled with lack of rhythm at certain parts of the [match against Cal],” Haley said. “We have to fight through that.”

Regardless of the team’s impressive 14-2 record, Haley notes there are still a lot of areas his team has to focus on.

“We’ve got a lot to learn in the way of continuing to control matches,” Haley said. “But I believe the real culprit in doing this is still our defense. Our blocking at the net has to continually get better.”

To help improve the team’s weaker areas, the Women of Troy have spent the week practicing their transitions after kills, while also participating in competitive serving and receiving drills. But these extra efforts in practice cannot help the players deal with something else that might be distracting them — midterms.

“I’m really trying to get them to focus and study at the same time,” Haley said. “They get stronger as they go through it, especially the younger ones.”

Haley has six freshmen on his 16 roster team, and with midterms and other distractions standing in the way, he cannot deny he is a bit worried about his team having to travel and play the next two games on the road.

“I am real concerned, but there’s not anything I can do about it except keep us very organized, keep life simple and give them time to study that won’t affect their preparation for the matches,” Haley said.

First up for the Women of Troy is Arizona State. While the Sun Devils are just 6-11 this season and a mere 1-4 in the Pac-10, Haley is definitely not taking the team lightly.

“If [Arizona State] lose[s] twice this weekend, they could be looking at their season being over, and they can’t afford to have that happen. They’re at home. They’ve been playing well. They just haven’t won,” Haley said.

Facing Arizona will not be easy either, as the Women of Troy have lost two straight games in Tucson.

“I think it’s always difficult to play there,” Haley said. “They’re always ready for us.”

Despite USC’s high national ranking and impressive depth, Haley is not getting overconfident, especially when he considers how young his team is and how much room there is for improvement.

“I think we’ve really got our work cut out for us. This is not going to be easy at all,” Haley said. “It’s always hard playing at the Arizonas.”