Women’s volleyball is ready to host crosstown rivals

first_imgThe No. 21 USC women’s volleyball team (8-3) open up Pac-12 play against crosstown rival No. 9 UCLA (9-1) Wednesday at the Galen Center.Emily Smith | Daily TrojanBruins are brewin’ · Freshman outside hitter Khalia Lanier and the No. 21 Women of Troy open Pac-12 play with a home match against No. 9 UCLA on Wednesday. The teams are 5-5 in their last 10 meetings.Both teams have had impressive performances leading up to conference play. USC also started off their conference season against UCLA last season, sweeping the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion.After starting off this season 0-3, the Women of Troy regrouped and are on an eight-match win streak.Part of the team’s slow start was because of the influx of new players just before the start of the season. Now, USC has been able to find traction with its youth. Head coach Mick Haley mentioned how the players were able to play effectively in the system following the three-straight losses and cut down tremendously on their errors.“The biggest thing for these young players is to know that they are going to make errors,” Haley said. “But if you worry about errors, you’re going to make more.”The Bruins are having a strong start to the season as well. Their only loss was a four-set match against then-ranked No. 15 San Diego; the Toreros are currently ranked No. 7.Starting off against a highly ranked opponent is nothing new for USC. The Pac-12 is arguably one of the best volleyball conferences in the nation. Haley talked about how there’s no such thing as an easy win in the Pac-12.“We have a steady diet of ranked teams that we’re going to play in the next two weeks,” Haley said.The Women of Troy finished their non-conference schedule with two sweeps at home against Oklahoma and Maryland, building good momentum for the road ahead. The team’s win against Maryland was head coach Mick Haley’s 400th win with the program. He now has a 400-98 record at USC.To say Haley would be used to winning at USC would be an understatement. Winning is what he’s preached to his teams since he came here in 2001.“We expect to win the national championship,” Haley said. “If you come to USC, those are the expectations.”Playing at a high enough level to win the championship starts at the conference level. That’s why Haley emphasizes playing tough in the Pac-12 and earning the conference crown as the team’s goal.“At USC we expect to win the conference every year,” Haley said. “That’s our goal.”To repeat as conference champions, the Women of Troy will have to start off with a win against their crosstown rivals. USC can look for strong offensive performances from freshman outside hitter Khalia Lanier, sophomore outside hitter Alyse Ford, junior opposite Brittany Abercrombie and junior outside hitter Niki Withers. The four lead the team in kills. Lanier leads the team with 151 kills.USC can shut down UCLA at the net with strong blocking from senior middle blocker Elise Ruddins, junior middle blocker Jordan Dunn and Abercrombie.Dunn, who is returning from a back injury that redshirted her last season, has only played in 23 sets this season but is tied with Abercrombie for second on the team with 31 blocks. Ruddins leads the team with 40 blocks. Both Ruddins and Abercrombie have appeared in all 39 sets so far this season.Last time the Women of Troy and the Bruins met at the Galen Center, UCLA upset top-ranked USC in five sets for their first and only home loss last season.Haley is excited about getting to open up the season at home.“Our spectators that come and root us on really help us at our home matches,” Haley said.The first serve against the Bruins will be at 7 p.m. at the Galen Center.last_img

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