Women of Troy cruise through weekend doubleheader

Entering a weekend doubleheader against junior college foes, the No. 4-ranked USC women’s sand volleyball team performed up to its coach’s expectations on Saturday in Santa Barbara, as the team swept both matches Santa Barbara City College and Fullerton College.

“We were using these matches in order to gain some experience on the beach for next week’s USA Volleyball Invitational at Hermosa Beach”, USC head coach Anna Collier said. “We weren’t expecting these matches to be too competitive, as long as we just focused on our side of the court.”

The Women of Troy (12-5) kicked off the day against SBCC, and started it on the right note at the No. 1 pairs spot, as junior Kirby Burnham and freshman Cinnamon Sary beat Jenna Anderson and Madi Waddell in straight sets, 21-8, 21-6.

This was a change in the Trojan’s lineup, because typically Burnham and Sary play at the No. 2 spot.

“We are trying some new things on the court and this pair of matches was a great time to put them to the test and see if what we are doing in practice is working on the court”, said Collier.

The pair of graduate student Stevi Robinson and senior Katie Fuller, who usually plays at the No.1 spot, took care of business in the No. 2 match, soundly defeating Rachel Bower and Jasmine Ward, 21-14, 21-9.

Another lop-sided match came at No. 5 spot, with freshmen Christine Irvin and Erica Muller defeating Kathleen Finnerty and Tessa Weller, 21-8, 21-6. The match victory was clinched in the No. 3 spot, where sophomores Eve Ettinger and Bria Russ beat Lara Bangs-Ari Garner, 21-15, 21-6.

The Women of Troy immediately followed their match against SBCC with a dual against Fullerton and the result was no different, as they went on to sweep them in every match.

Once again, Collier mixed and matched pairs, experimenting with different players at different courts.

Burnham and Sary defeated Shawnna Chung and Lisa Grislam at No. 1, 21-8, 21-11. Fuller and Robinson then then defeated the team of Jordyn Heebler and Crystal Lopez at No. 2, 21-17, 21-11.

Also, in their first action of the day, freshman Sydney Seau and sophomore Alexa Stonish knocked off the pair of Emilee Sorbom and Grace Rodriguez at No. 5, 21-12, 21-13.

In addition to the team scoring matches, USC swept all of the non-scoring exhibition matches as well, going 3-0 combined against both teams.

“These two matches are big, since we wanted to be able to carry some momentum going into next week’s tournament”, said Collier. “That’s when we won’t have the luxury of trying new things, and we won’t have such a large margin for error.

USC next plays in the USA Volleyball Beach Collegiate Challenge on April 20. The tournament showcases many of the top teams in the nation, including No. 1 Pepperdine and No. 2 Long Beach State. USC has lost to twice to each team this season and will be looking to break that streak.

The tournament will be held at Hermosa Beach, Calif., and the first serve is set for 9 a.m. on each day.