Following their two-game losing streak, the Women of Troy have won three straight Pac-12 matches as they head up north to face California and No. 4 Stanford on Wednesday.
The No. 6 USC women’s volleyball team (16-2, 4-2) has bounced back nicely after a humbling weekend at the end of September, especially last Sunday’s win over upstart Arizona State.
Not only did the win provide a great morale boost for the team, but it also marked a landmark victory for USC coach Mick Haley. With the win, Haley notched his 300th win as the head coach at USC, making USC the third school he has won 300 games with.
“I liked the way we played this match [against ASU],” Haley said. “We got in a little rut and didn’t get out of it as quickly as we wanted to, but overall this team has been hurting people and they’ve been scoring at will with their left sides, so I’m glad we limited them to .140 hitting.”
The Women of Troy have displayed quite a bit of resiliency in recent weeks after falling twice to Pac-12 rivals.
“We’ve been working really hard in practice, and that’s helped for our confidence. How you play in practice determines how you play in a game,” said Hagglund.
Haley has stressed defense as the key to USC’s success, and its play at the net and passing remain an important part of its approach throughout the season.
Against Stanford, the Women of Troy face off against a team undefeated so far in Pac-12 play as they try to avenge last season’s 3-0 sweep. Stanford is first in the conference in digs per game and also ranks third in blocks, so the USC offense will need to be in fine form if its wants to challenge the Cardinal.
The Women of Troy will have to keep tabs on junior middle hitter Carly Wopat, who leads the team (and conference) in blocks per game and also ranks as the team leader in kills.
To counteract Stanford’s dominance in the middle, USC will use junior Alexis Olgard and rising freshman Alicia Ogoms.
“You’re starting to see Ogoms start to grow under her body and if Alexis keeps doing what she’s doing, that will make our defense really great,” Haley said.
USC’s defensive prowess has been the catalyst for its recent winning streak, and it will have to once again be in top form Wednesday.
The Women of Troy shouldn’t overlook a Cal squad that has been beset by injuries from the start of the season. Playing without starting libero Robin Rostratter and All-Conference opposite Correy Johnson, the Golden Bears have definitely struggled early on, but Haley points out this is still a rivalry game and a formidable challenge.
“This is the hardest trip, going to the Bay Area and knowing how hard they’re studying right now,” Haley said about this upcoming week. “Stanford is always difficult to beat on their home court.”
Haley said the weekend could be a good barometer for some of the team’s young players, however.
“We have a good matchup to see how we do because they’re also starting four freshmen,”
Haley said. “Having a late match Friday night against Cal will be a big challenge for us, and it will allow us to see what we’re made of.”