Women of Troy to start NCAA tournament play at Galen Center

The Women of Troy are just a day away from their opening round game in the NCAA tournament. The selection committee awarded the Women of Troy the No. 6 seed.

“I thought we were placed about right,” said USC head coach Mick Haley.

USC will face off against New Mexico on Friday at the Galen Center. If the Women of Troy win, they will host the winner of Friday’s match between Long Beach State and San Diego on Saturday.

Killer instincts · Junior outside hitter Alex Jupiter was one of three Trojans named to the All-Pac-10 team ahead of the NCAA tournament. - Jesse Bowman | Daily Trojan

So far this week in practice, Haley has felt his team has been a bit distracted.

“I think the intensity of the finals coming up has caused us to have a little trouble in concentrating in practice, but we’re getting through it OK,” Haley said. “I think it’s a great opportunity to learn about how to do two things at once, and try to do them well.”

Nonetheless, he still feels the team is as prepared as it can be. And the Women of Troy should have some momentum, as they closed out the season winning 11 of their final 12 matches.

“We understand what our opponents like to do and what they’ll try to do up to a point,” Haley said. “Now it’s just the preparation to see if we can defend what we think they’re going to do and then put in our game plan for how we’d like to attack them.”

Despite the team’s high seed and impressive 25-4 record this season, the Women of Troy are not taking New Mexico lightly.

“They’re a very good passing team, and that’s what gives them the opportunity to stay in games all the time. They really just stay right in there, and they hang. So if we’re going to be successful, we’re going to have to be very good at some things that we do to score points,” Haley said.

Although Haley admitted most of this week’s attention is focused on the New Mexico match, the team is preparing for a potential Saturday game as well.

“We have to take a look at both of the other teams just in case we’re successful on Friday so that we’re not panicked at the last minute trying to get ready for the other two. So we’ll watch tape on all three opponents,” Haley said.

One exciting announcement that came amid this week’s postseason preparations was that of Pac-10 honors. Outside hitters freshman Falyn Fonoimoana and junior Alex Jupiter, as well as junior middle blocker Lauren Williams all earned conference honors, while junior setter Kendall Bateman received an honorable mention.

“It really speaks to the rest of the team because they couldn’t do that by themselves. It just means that they probably want to sit down and thank their teammates,” Haley said.

Although the players said they appreciate the awards, Haley downplayed their significance and denied they stole focus away from the team.

“We’ll be gracious, we’ll accept them and we’ll thank our teammates, and then we’ll put them in the locker and go back to trying to win the national championship,” he said.

The Women of Troy will face off against New Mexico on Friday at 7 p.m.