Perfection has been the name of the game so far for the No. 3 USC women’s volleyball team, which will put its 9-0 record to the test at the TCU Molten Invitational this weekend in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Women of Troy, one of just three remaining undefeated teams in the Pac-12, will square off against TCU, Lehigh and Prairie View A&M. USC is seeking its second 12-0 start in the last three years. The tournament will once again feature a round-robin style, as the Women of Troy will draw TCU on Friday night before a doubleheader against Lehigh and Prairie View A&M on Saturday.
The season has been a relative breeze for the team, which has bounded out of the gates to an impressive 9-0 start. After a season-opening sweep in the Texas A&M Invitational, in which it lost just one set, the team collected three more wins as host in the Luxe City Center Trojan Invitational before yet another sweep of the USC Classic tournament last weekend at the Galen Center.
USC coach Mick Haley was still adamant about improvements the team must make, citing the team’s grueling, five-set win against the University of San Diego that started the tournament.
“We made too many errors,” Haley said. “We played a good first game, but then our legs got rubbery. We have to relax and make fewer errors. Our three main hitters contributed 23 points to our opponents in the first game.”
Despite struggling to knock off the Toreros in the first game, the Women of Troy easily beat Cal Poly in straight sets before sweeping rival Notre Dame in the nightcap to conclude the tournament.
Any signs of fatigue seemed to disappear Saturday, as the Women of Troy once again completed a tournament with at least two sweeps. Against Cal Poly, highly touted freshman Samantha Bricio put on yet another impressive show, leading all players with 14 kills.
Fellow freshman Alicia Ogoms, who saw significant action after the team’s tiring opening match, more than delivered, as she recorded six of her seven kills in the final set to help the team complete their sweep. Sophomore setter Hayley Crone turned in 32 assists and 11 digs for her fifth double-double of the season, while junior libero Natalie Hagglund led all players with 13 digs.
The Women of Troy delivered an even more impressive performance in the nightcap, turning three close sets into victories en route to their sixth sweep of the season.
Senior opposite hitter Katie Fuller had a banner night, registering a career high 21 kills and capturing tournament MVP honors. Joining her on the all-tournament team were Hagglund and Bricio, whose 12 kills were second on the team. The results were not lost on Haley.
“The team’s fight was one of the most encouraging things we saw tonight,” Haley said. “We just finished. What a great comeback. I thought Fuller was amazing, but we had some great performances from all of our players and our setting was wonderful in this match.”
The TCU Molten Invitational will mark the end of tournament play for the Women of Troy, who will begin individual play against crosstown rival UCLA on Sept. 19 at the Galen Center.