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Women of Troy continue Pac-12 play on the road

first_imgDigging success · Led by senior outside hitter Samantha Bricio, the Women of Troy are off to the fourth best start in program history. – Tal Volk | Daily TrojanThe women’s volleyball team embarks on a four-game road trip this week, beginning on Friday at Oregon State. After playing the Beavers, the No. 1 Women of Troy will travel to Eugene to take on Oregon, and they will wrap things up in Washington, where they will face Washington and Washington State for the second time this season.USC has been No. 1 in the nation since Oct. 5. With a 20-0 record, the Women of Troy received a unanimous vote for the top spot for the first time this season in the AVCA Coaches Poll.Not many expected such a strong season out of this year’s team. After a subpar 2014 campaign, USC went into the fall with a young team and a good deal of roster turnover. Additionally, head coach Mick Haley asked his players to adapt to a new, physical system in hopes of lifting his side’s play.With all that in mind, it was a tall order for this 2015 team to improve on last season’s record — let alone blow it out of the water — but the players came together and responded to the challenge. The Women of Troy racked up 16 wins in total last year: a mark this season’s roster hit just over a month into its campaign.Junior libero Taylor Whittingham, who was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week for the second time in her career on Monday, praised the new members of the team for gelling with the rest of the squad so quickly after entering the program.“The freshman came in, and we got really close with them as a group,” she said. “That helped a lot for our team’s chemistry.”Whether it’s been the team chemistry, the new system, sheer determination or some combination of the three, the fact remains that the Women of Troy are off to their best start in over a decade. The last time the team found itself 20-0 was in 2003, when USC defeated Florida in the NCAA Tournament Final in Dallas to cap off a perfect 35-0 season. It was the second of Haley’s two championships at USC and the second consecutive tournament-winning year for the Women of Troy.Haley refuses to look beyond the short term for now, however, knowing that playing Pac-12 rivals for the second time this season would be a tougher challenge.“The first time through, everyone is just trying to feel each other out,” he said. “The second time, everyone’s seen the data and has seen how you play, and they’ll try to attack all of your weaknesses.”USC will play its first rematches of the season when the team travels to Washington and Washington State. Both schools visited the Galen Center earlier in the season: The Women of Troy first swept past the Cougars 3-0 and moved on to beat the Huskies 3-1 two days later.Before USC plays its two opponents in Washington, though, they will have to get through Oregon State on Friday and Oregon on Sunday.The Beavers have had a tough campaign, and they sit at 4-14 going into their match against USC. The two sides split their season series last year. The Women of Troy took the first game at the Galen Center 3-1, and OSU took the second by the same score line back in Corvallis.Oregon has endured an up-and-down season to this point, with the Ducks’ record at 10-7 going into their first game of the week against UCLA on Friday. Interestingly, they have spent most of their season so far away from home. Oregon has only played two games at the Matthew Knight Arena this year, but both have been close, five-set contests. The Ducks will look to get a boost from their home fans this weekend against the Women of Troy.No matter the opposition, USC remains focused on executing its game plan.“We’re just working on getting comfortable and knowing all our roles in the system,” Whittingham said.Haley echoed his libero’s comments.“We’re still a work in progress,” he said. “Every game, we get a little better so that it can all come together in December.”last_img read more