Volleyball hosts unranked Arizona teams

first_imgSophomore outside hitter Khalia Lanier leaps into the air to spike the ball in a game against Cal at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. Photo by Kaan Demiroz | Daily TrojanThe No. 17 USC women’s volleyball team (16-7, 8-4 Pac-12) is back home after four straight away matches. On Friday, the Trojans host Arizona State, and on Sunday, they host Arizona.“This weekend we’re looking to have great games versus both Arizonas,” junior libero Victoria Garrick said. Last time the Women of Troy faced off against these two teams, they split their games. Out in Tucson, USC was stunned in a straight-sweep against the Wildcats (25-23, 25-17, 26-24). The team bounced back and picked up a four-set win in Tempe against the Sun Devils (19-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-22). “We’re very excited for the Arizona game because they swept us,” Garrick said. “We were completely caught off guard. I don’t think we expected to lose the game, let alone get swept.”This time around, the Women of Troy will have home court advantage. As the Pac-12 is arguably the toughest conference for women’s volleyball, wins on the home court are vital. USC has fared well at the Galen Center: it has a home record of 6-1. The Trojans’ only loss at home was against then-No. 3 Stanford. Now the Cardinal has jumped up to No. 2 in the rankings. In its last four matches, USC has gone 2-2. Its offense has been missing a key component in sophomore outside hitter Khalia Lanier, who has been sidelined. In the team’s matches in Washington, freshman outside hitter Brooke Botkin continued to impress. Botkin had 30 kills on the weekend, a team high. She put up two aces and 18 digs. Rounding out the other side of USC’s attack are senior opposites Brittany Abercrombie and Niki Withers. The two combined for 52 kills in the team’s last two outings. “I know that [the Wildcats] should be a little frightened,” Garrick said. “We’re ready to get up for that match and really put the hammer on them.”To pick up two wins against the Arizona schools, the Women of Troy will need to rely on Botkin, Abercrombie and Withers. They’ll also need a resurgence of offensive strength from junior outside hitter Alyse Ford. While Ford did not play against the Huskies, she led the team with 14 kills two days later in their sweep of the Cougars. The Sun Devils are led by senior middle blocker Oluoma Okaro. Okaro has 385 kills on the season, averaging 4.48 kills per set. Arizona State’s offense is rounded out by freshman outside hitter Griere Hughes and sophomore outside hitter Ivana Jeremic. Hughes has 226 kills on the season, averaging by 2.94 kills per set. Jeremic has 221 kills on the season, averaging 2.76 kills per set. The Wildcats are led by a bevy of young talent. Freshman outside hitter Paige Whipple leads the team with 165 kills on the season, averaging 2.36 kills per set. Redshirt freshman outside hitter Elizabeth Shelton is second on the team with 132 kills on the season, averaging 2.10 kills per set. Freshman middle blocker Candice Denny is third on the list. Denny is seventh in the conference with a .356 hitting percentage overall and third in the conference with a .372 hitting percentage in league play. She’s on track to be the first freshman in program history to hit at least .350. The Women of Troy will have to limit powerful attacks from the Arizona schools to pick up two more wins at home.last_img

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