Women of Troy top Utah and Colorado in straight-set sweeps

The USC women’s volleyball team continued its recent Pac-12 dominance, taking out both Utah and Colorado this week in straight-set sweeps to improve to 19-3 overall and 7-3 in conference play.

After a sweep against California in Berkeley following a tough loss at Stanford, the Women of Troy came back to the Galen Center and took care of the Utes (25-14, 25-14, 25-22) before defeating the Buffaloes (25-16, 25-19, 25-18) to complete a successful Parent’s Weekend.

“Our confidence level is exactly where it needs to be,” senior opposite Katie Fuller said. “After losing to Stanford, we came into practice and challenged ourselves. We focused on not only attacking what we think are our strong points, but also our opponents’ as well.”

The first set against the Buffaloes began as a tight one for the Women of Troy, who took an early 5-4 lead on a kill by junior middle blocker Alexis Olgard. A Colorado attacking error pushed the lead to 15-8, after which the Women of Troy put the set away. Back-to-back blocks by freshman middle blocker Alicia Ogoms and freshman outside hitter Samantha Bricio put the Women of Troy up 19-11, and Olgard finished off an exciting rally to make it 22-13. After an error brought up set point, the Buffaloes recorded three straight points before Bricio terminated the comeback attempt to seal the set, 25-16. Olgard and Bricio led all players with four kills apiece, while the defense held Colorado to a mere .032 attacking percentage with seven kills.

“They tried to run a much quicker offense [as] opposed to some of the other teams we’ve played, but our team runs pretty quick as well, so playing against ourselves helped us,” Fuller said.

Bricio continued her strong play into the second set, notching a kill and a block in succession to push the Women of Troy up 4-3. Two kills on the left side by junior outside hitter Sara Shaw pushed the lead to 11-7, after which the Women of Troy ran away with the set. Bricio came up big once again, slamming powerful kills from the left side to put USC up 20-10. The Women of Troy had trouble putting the Buffaloes away, as the visitors recorded six straight points. Nonetheless, Fuller brought up set point with a kill after which Ogoms ended the set at 25-19. The Women of Troy attacked at a .314 clip for the set and limited the Buffaloes to .107 with eight kills.

The Women of Troy took advantage of a few Colorado errors to begin the third set up 6-3, but Colorado hung around. Sophomore middle blocker Hannah Schraer, seeing her first action of the match, delivered a kill to go up 11-9, after which an Olgard kill forced a timeout at 15-13. The Women of Troy rattled off seven straight points to go up 21-13 on a Bricio kill. An Olgard kill and a service error brought up match point for the Women of Troy, who then sealed it 25-18 on a kill by sophomore setter Emily Young.

The victory followed a strong performance Friday night, again on the strength of another fantastic performance from Bricio. The freshman notched seven service aces along with six kills for a total of 13 points. The seven aces marked the most by a USC player since Asia Kaczor had eight in an October 2007 match against Oregon State. Shaw led all players with 10 kills and also added two service aces for 12 points. The Women of Troy put together a dominant hitting performance, attacking at clips of .571 and .480 in the first two sets before finishing at .341 overall.

“You’re seeing how tough it is in this conference to play on the road,” head coach Mick Haley said. “Colorado couldn’t muster the offense they’ve been able to bring against other teams. But we took both these of these teams out with our serving, and we have a combination of different serves that cause many problems.”

The victory also marked number 900 for USC’s all-time record — and number 303 for Haley, who is only eight wins away from USC’s all-time coaching record (currently held by Chuck Erbe, who recorded 310 wins in 12 seasons).

Meanwhile, as they continue their home stand this week, the Women of Troy will look to improve and solidify their rotations.

“We need to work on our system so that we can become more comfortable with it, and we need to keep improving,” Haley said. “I thought that by playing a lot of our players, everybody’s focus is high and everyone’s feeling like they’re getting better.”

The Women of Troy will host Washington on Friday before squaring off against Washington State on Saturday night at the Galen Center.