Women of Troy advance to Final Four

It is often difficult to defeat a team three times in one season.

Fortunately for No. 6 USC women’s volleyball, this proved to be true for No. 3 Stanford.

After losing both regular season matches to the Cardinal, the Women of Troy were able to win when it mattered most, defeating Stanford and earning a spot in the Final Four.

USC won Saturday’s Elite Eight match in Dayton, Ohio, in five sets, 20-25, 25-17, 22-25, 26-24 and 16-14.

Freshman outside hitter Falyn Fonoimoana showed why she was worthy of her Pac-10 Freshman of the Year title, recording a team-high 25 kills in the match, along with four blocks. Fellow outside hitter Alex Jupiter added 22 kills, while middle blocker Lauren Williams had 13.

In October, Stanford handed the Women of Troy their second loss of the season with a four-set win at the Galen Center. The Cardinal also swept USC in Palo Alto when the teams met again a month later.

USC advanced to Saturday’s game after sweeping Indiana on Friday night. The Women of Troy opened the tournament last weekend with a three-game sweep of New Mexico, followed by a four-set win against San Diego to make it back to the Sweet 16. Both of these first two games were at the Galen Center.

The Women of Troy have now won 15 of their last 16 matches.

USC joins the No. 4 Penn State Nittany Lions in the Final Four. The Women of Troy will face off against the winner of Saturday’s match between two Pac-10 teams, No. 7 California and Washington. The fourth and final spot will be occupied by either No. 9 Texas or No. 16 Purdue.

The Final Four will take place next weekend in Kansas City. If USC comes away with a victory on Thursday, it will advance to the NCAA championship game Saturday, Dec. 18 at 5:30 p.m. PST, which will be aired on ESPN2.