Coming off of winning the Trojan Invitational last weekend, the fifth-ranked USC women’s volleyball team will look to make it back-to-back tournament victories this weekend in the USC Classic Tournament hosted at the Galen Center.
The Women of Troy will have their 6-0 record tested against the likes of SoCal rival No. 17 San Diego (3-1), who they will play first on Friday at 7 p.m.
A sweep of the USC Classic Tournament would put the Women of Troy’s start on par with that of the 2010 squad that won its first 12 matches to open up the year. Although the Women of Troy have won 24 of 26 sets so far this season, head coach Mick Haley still thinks USC has some work to do.
“We’re in the process of becoming a really good team. We just need to get through these ups and downs and work on reducing our hitting errors,” Haley said. “The team is focused and they’re trying hard. They’re certainly not at the top of their game yet but improvement is possible and we’ve got a lot of athleticism.”
While coach Haley says the team as a whole isn’t at the top of its game yet, it is hard to imagine that freshman outside hitter Samantha Bricio could play any better than she has the past two weeks. For the second consecutive week, the 6-foot-2 outside hitter from Guadalajara, Mexico, has garnered the Pac-12’s freshman of the week honors. On top of that, Bricio was named MVP of the Texas A&M Invitational and was also an all-tournament selection for the Trojan Invitational last weekend.
“Samantha Bricio has been able to score points for us, which is a very good thing,” Haley said. “We put her out there because of her ball control skills and she’s been a little hot and cold with her passing, but she has gotten much better with her blocking.”
In other news, senior opposite hitter Katie Fuller was recently named the most valuable player for the Trojan Invitational. She tallied 10 kills in the final match. Because of her experience both on and off the court, Fuller has emerged as the bona fide leader of what can be a considered a green, albeit talented, USC squad.
Fuller will lead the Women of Troy against a talented Toreros team ranked in the Top 20 this year. San Diego will be looking to avenge its season-ending loss to USC in the second round of last year’s NCAA tournament behind stars Chloe Ferrari, Katie Hoekman and Alaysia Brown.
When asked about how USC will handle this upcoming weekend, Fuller seemed cautious but confident.
“We need to continue to focus on our side of the net,” Fuller said. “We just need to be able to play whoever comes in front of us.”
One of the biggest surprises of the year has been the outstanding play of USC’s freshmen. Coach Haley praised all four freshmen and said that their play on the court even surprised some of the older girls on the team.
Specifically, Haley went out of his way to praise freshman middle blocker Alicia Ogoms and freshman outside hitter Kiara Wright for their play so far.