first_imgEntering the Halloween contest, No. 20 USC has an overall record of 12-9 and a 5-6 record in the Pac-12 play, following a loss to No. 2 Washington on Wednesday night.Despite being ranked 18 spots lower, USC played Washington close, losing by just two points in each set for an overall score of 26-24, 26-24, 25-23. USC led late in the third set, but couldn’t quite hold off the Huskies, who have long been a thorn in USC’s side. Last year, Washington knocked USC out in the NCAA Regional final in a tough five-setter.Against the Huskies on Wednesday, junior outsider hitter Samantha Bricio led the charge with 15 kills, while sophomore outsider hitter Ebony Nwanebu added 11 along with eight digs.USC couldn’t quite contain Washington’s star player Krista Vansant, who posted 17 kills and 10 digs.But the Women of Troy must now turn their attention to the Cougars, who are 10-12 overall and 1-9 in conference play. Though on paper this appears to be an easy match for the Women of Troy, the team knows that they shouldn’t take any opponent lightly.When the two teams met earlier this season on Oct. 3, USC won a thrilling five-set match in which the final set had two ties and one lead change. Junior outside hitter Samantha Bricio recorded a double-double with a game-high 28 kills and 13 digs.Since that match, however, the Women of Troy have changed their offensive system and personnel. Instead of running a 6-2 formation with sophomore setter Alice Pizzasegola and senior setter Hayley Crone controlling the offense, the team no longer has two back-row setters. Instead, senior opposite Emily Young has taken over setting duties in the front row, presenting an entirely new challenge for the visiting Cougars.Head coach Mick Haley acknowledged the challenges of such a midseason change.“It takes a while to develop and we have only done it for a week and a half,” Haley said. “The more we play, the better we are going to get out of it. We are just trying to speed it up as much as we can.”Though USC’s offense has changed slightly, its production has not slipped. Bricio has 313 kills on the season to go along with 63 aces. Her teammate Nwanebu has started to find her groove after coming back from a preseason injury. Nwanebu has averaged 15.33 kills and 10.33 digs in her last three matches.The Women of Troy’s defense has followed the offense’s example by upping the intensity. Sophomore libero Taylor Whittingham entered Wednesday night’s match against Washington State leading the Pac-12 with 4.64 digs per set.“[Leading the conference] is really cool. I didn’t even realize it,” Whittingham said. “It’s all thanks to the blockers because they help me see it and funnel the ball to me.”Ruddins managed 11 digs in Wednesday night’s matchup.Though Washington State has its hands full trying to contain Bricio, Nwanebu and Ruddins, the Cougars have their own one-two combo on the outside. Outside hitter Kyra Holt has been averaging 3.26 per set with outside hitter Jaicee Harris right behind her at 2.95. Setter Haley MacDonald has put up great numbers running the team’s 5-1 offense with over 11 assists per set.With roughly half of conference play in the books, the Women of Troy hope to make a late run in order to secure home court advantage for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Their quest begins on Friday night at the Galen Center. After tough matches against the nation’s top two teams the Women of Troy are set to face off against the lowly Washington State Cougars this Friday.Flying high · Junior outside hitter Samantha Bricio posted 15 kills and nine digs in USC’s three-set loss to Washington Wednesday night. – Brian Ji | Daily Trojanlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *