Women’s volleyball looks to stay hot

The Trojans will face two future Big Ten opponents at the Boilermaker Challenge.

Senior outside hitter Skylar Fields earned her fifth Pac-12 weekly award, her first this season, at the Trojan Invitational last weekend. (Anna Hunter)

After winning the Trojan Invitational, a red-hot USC will travel over 2,000 miles to play Illinois and No. 17 Purdue, two future conference opponents in the Big Ten. When asked about facing teams that will become familiar foes in the future, Head Coach Brad Keller chuckled a little before answering.

“You know, it’s funny when people are asking me that, and it doesn’t cross my mind,” Keller said in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “And I think that’s where being a coach is that we just don’t look down the road too far. You just stay in the moment.”

The Trojans started off the season 1-4 before sweeping the tournament, bringing their record to 4-4.

“[The invitational] was important on so many different levels,” Keller said. “Coming into the season, no one really chooses or expects to go 1-4 out of the gates. So in order to get it back to even or to get three wins is extremely important for the future of what we’re trying to do.”

After the offensive outburst, the Trojans have a .250 hitting percentage on the season, while opponents are hitting .197 against USC. 

Senior outside hitter Skylar Fields collected 47 kills over the weekend, including a career-high 28 against San Diego. For her efforts in the tournament, Fields won Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.  The All-American leads the Trojans with 144 kills for the season so far. 

Senior middle blocker Lindsey Miller is second on the team with 60 kills and first on the team with 34 blocks.  Over the weekend, Miller was named to the all-tournament team along with Fields and sophomore libero Gala Trunbint.

Trubint racked up 39 digs in the tournament, including 20 against San Diego. On the season, Trubint has a team-leading 103 digs. Graduate libero Ellie Snook is second on the team with 78. 

“A couple of players were starting to really kind of find their groove,” Keller said.

The Trojans will start against unranked Illinois Thursday. The Fighting Illini are 5-3 and are 108th out of 332 Division 1 schools with an average of 12.8 kills per set. By comparison, the Trojans are 67th, with an average of 13.31 kills per set. 

Fighting Illini senior outside hitter Raina Terry has a team-leading 145 kills and is sixth in the nation with an average of 4.83 kills per set. On defense, freshman libero Lily Barry is first on the team with 118 digs. 

“Illinois is pretty physical, and they have a young lady, Raina Terry,” Keller said. “She can single-handedly win a match. It’s gonna be interesting to see … a caliber athlete like that. We’ve not seen that yet.”

The Trojans will play No. 17 Purdue in enemy territory Friday. The Boilermakers are on a four-game winning streak, including victories against three ranked teams. Freshman outside hitter Chloe Chicoine and sophomore outside hitter Eva Hudson form a duo that combines for 236 kills. Chicoine, the former No. 1 recruit in the nation by PrepVolleyball, is 41st in the nation with 4.10 kills per set.

On the season, USC is 0-4 on the road and 1-0 in games played at neutral sites. The Trojans are 2-3 all-time against Illinois and 5-0 against Purdue. 

Women’s volleyball will travel to Holloway Gymnasium in West Lafayette to play Illinois Thursday at 5:30 p.m. EST before playing Purdue Friday at 8:00 p.m. EST.

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