Volleyball fighting for top spot in Pac-12
After winning their fifth and sixth games in a row against No. 17 University of Oregon and Oregon State, the women’s volleyball team will head to Northern California to take on the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford this weekend. The Trojans are 15-4 overall and tied with No. 7 Stanford for first place in the Pac-12 as they look to beat the Golden Bears and the Cardinal.
USC won their last two matches by scores of 3-1 with two 20+ kill performances from senior outside hitter Skylar Fields and two 20-dig performances from freshman libero Gala Trubint. These performances earned the pair Pac-12 offensive and defensive player of the week respectively; this was Fields’s third week in a row winning the award, and Trubint’s second in a row.
Head Coach Brad Keller spoke about the importance of the pair to the team.
“I love this team,” Keller said. “I love those two, I love the entire group. I just love the commitment to their craft and trying to make themselves and the team better and how they lean into it. I can’t say enough about them.”
This team is relatively new together, with only a few players who could train together in the spring. Keller has stressed the importance of building a strong culture, which he thinks is a key reason for their success thus far.
“I think we’re not as polished as some of these other teams are, but we’re more tied in together and we’re more like a group or an adhesive unit at this point,” Keller said.
Coach’s message has made an impact on the team, who has bought into his message.
“So I think a lot of the success we’ve achieved thus far… it’s just building off of the culture that we’ve created and are continuing to create, especially with a brand new team, a lot of newcomers,” Trubint said. “So when we get out there to play, we know what we’re doing and we’re on the same page. And when we’re not, we’re talking about it a lot, so I think a lot of that’s paying off.”
Last week at practice, the team focused on their serving, an integral part of their wins against Oregon and Oregon State.
“Our serving has been getting a lot better over the past few games,” Trubint said, “We’ve been putting teams in tough situations, really good passing teams like Oregon… and I think we were able to get them out of system and isolate some of their good players.”
The team’s matchup against Stanford could give the winner sole-control of the Pac-12, however Coach Keller sees it as any other game on the schedule.
“I don’t mean any disrespect, but it would just be another win in-conference,” Keller said. “I understand, it’s Stanford, it’s a ranked opponent, it’s on the road, but our goal is not to beat Stanford, our goal is to get to a national championship…. Stanford is already a team, obviously the number seven team in the country, and is already a championship-caliber team. We’re trying to catch that.”
The Trojans are currently on the fringe of the American Volleyball Coaches Association rankings and with two wins against Berkeley and Stanford, they will likely crack the Top 25.
USC will take on Berkeley on Friday at 7 p.m., and Stanford on Sunday at 1 p.m.