USC tries to chop down the Cardinal

When it comes to athletics, there’s arguably been no bigger thorn in USC’s side this season than Pac-12 rival Stanford. Though the football team suffered one of their three agonizing losses to their Bay Area foe in September, the USC women’s volleyball team succumbed to a Cardinal squad that is responsible for one of the team’s four losses on the season.

Opportunist · Freshman middle blocker Alicia Ogoms took advantage of increased playing time against Colorado to deliver 11 kills and three aces. – Austin Vogel | Daily Trojan

With the season winding down and the team gearing up for a deep postseason run, USC women’s volleyball will look to exact revenge this week, as it hosts the Cardinal on Thursday night and California on Friday for its final home matches of the regular season.

The Women of Troy (24-4, 12-4) return from a four-game road trip toting a three-game winning streak, having recorded victories over Arizona, Utah and Colorado to bounce back from a sweep by Arizona State.

“We’re really happy that we came out with two wins. The second week on the road is always difficult,” Haley said. “It’s a nice way to finish off the road trip with back-to-back wins, especially because Colorado played very well and fought us until the end.”

The bout with Stanford will likely be the toughest match yet for the Women of Troy, who suffered a 3-0 sweep early October in Palo Alto. No. 1 Stanford boasts a 24-2 overall record and a flawless 16-0 mark in Pac-12 play.

Regardless, the Women of Troy enter the match with considerable momentum, with wins against Utah and Colorado sealing a successful road trip. A balanced attack paved the way for the four-set victory (25-22, 15-25, 25-16, 25-23) over the Utes, as three players registered double-doubles. Freshman outside hitter Samantha Bricio continued her outstanding pace, notching 13 kills and 13 digs for her ninth double-double, while senior opposite Katie Fuller and junior outside hitter Sara Shaw each notched 13 kills and 10 digs.

Against the Buffaloes, the Women of Troy played their longest set of the season to start the match and prevailed 31-29 before dispatching of Colorado 25-19, 25-17 in the final two frames. Bricio again led the players offensively, this time recording 12 kills  along with eight digs. The Women of Troy also received important contributions from freshman middle blocker Alicia Ogoms, who utilized more playing time to deliver six blocks and five kills, and Fuller, who turned in a complete performance with 11 kills, three service aces, and five block assists.

“I just wanted to keep encouraging them after the first set. We had several opportunities to win that earlier but it was difficult for us to play in the altitude,” Haley said. “We weren’t serving very well and allowed them to get 21 kills, but we still managed to come out with a win.”

As the team prepares for the season’s most important match, Haley recognizes the opportunity that awaits USC.

“Stanford is always a difficult team to play, regardless of venue,” Haley said. “It’s interesting because, like us, they also play a lot of freshmen. They play differently than we do, however, so we need to prepare for them adequately and maintain our focus.”