Heading into another full weekend of games, the women’s volleyball team looks to keep its five-game win streak alive as it travels up north to face No. 2 Stanford on Friday and Cal on Sunday. Coming off a hard-fought, five-set victory Sunday against Colorado, the team is striving to improve consistency on the court and to capitalize on standardizing their strong moments.
“I thought we prepared well for Colorado and I thought we started well against [them], but it was an up and down match for sure,” head coach Brent Crouch said. “The big takeaway was just I was proud that they were able to flip it back on when they needed to. That was a tough place to play.”
USC has already faced and defeated five of seven ranked opponents this year, but Stanford comes with a strong history. In the team’s last meeting, the Cardinal finished the game in a quick three sets, but the Trojans are looking for redemption.
“I think [our] team has developed a little,” senior libero Victoria Garrick said. “I wouldn’t call it a rivalry, but we definitely all know we are coming to play because we know that regardless of ranking, each team has a chance. We really want to go into Maples this year and feel good about what we’re doing and put up a good fight.”
The Trojans have been preparing for this weekend by watching footage, focusing on both their mistakes and plays that came together to earn points. Their focus is less about their record and more about if they as a team are improving. By the end of season, they want to be able to say they have come a long way. So far, they already feel that sense of improvement, but are not satisfied yet and Crouch is always encouraging them to push themselves.
Stanford’s junior setter Jenna Gray is averaging 12.21 assists per game compared to USC freshman setter Raquel Lázaro’s 11.14. Cal presents its own challenges in sophomore outside hitter Mima Mirkovic, who averages 3.12 kills and 3.63 digs per game. However, Garrick, who is averaging 4.70 digs a game, is prepared to defend.
“We’re not in control of the score, but we are in control of how we can play and what we do,” Crouch said. “There have been times when I have really gotten on them in timeouts when we’ve been ahead by a lot because I think the level is not as good as we need to be. It gets easy to get caught up in the wins and losses and it’s hard to stay focused on if we’re getting better, [and if we are] doing the right things.”
Though they know that Stanford is the game they need to focus on because of their ranking. But, the Women of Troy are not counting out the Golden Bears.
“I think the Cal match will be a really big test for us,” Crouch said. “How do we come out after being on the road for that long after what it’s going to be like at Stanford? Can we maintain that same level of intensity against Cal that we do against Stanford?”
The Women of Troy have set goals for both matches, and they will look to extend their win streak to seven games by the end of the weekend.
“We don’t want to take any opponent lightly, but we know that Stanford is the bigger matchup of this week,” Garrick said. “I feel like when it comes to Cal, we’ll just focus on being efficient early and coming out and being on top of things. No matter what, I think we’re going to be coming back to the gym on Monday with things to work on and that’s exciting and challenging.”