Women’s volleyball hosts season-opening tournament

first_imgIt was a tough end to the season when the women’s volleyball team lost in five sets to No. 9 Kansas in the regional final of the NCAA tournament last December. But this season, the team is back and preparing for another deep playoff run. In 2015, the Women of Troy were expected to place fifth in the Pac-12, but instead dominated the tournament and finished first. They went into the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 seed.This year, the Women of Troy open the regular season ranked No. 7 and will host the Baden Invitational this weekend. As part of the tournament, USC will face off against Marquette, Santa Clara and UC Irvine.Going into this year, the team is experiencing various personnel changes that may alter the course of their season. Samantha Bricio and Alicia Ogoms, both huge contributors to the 2015 team, graduated in May, leaving opportunity for younger players to step up this season.Joining the team this year are four freshmen: Outside hitter Khalia Lanier, opposite hitter Daley Krage and liberos Noelle Pardo and Raegan LeGrand. Lanier was named the Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year in 2016. Adding to that group are two transfers: Junior setter Nikki Leonard and sophomore middle blocker Madison Murtagh. Both transfers are capable of playing this season and may have an impact on the starting roster.Also joining the roster is senior setter Alexa Strange, who has been competing as a member of the two-time national championship beach volleyball team. In 2016, she earned Pac-12 All-Conference team honors and scored the determining point in various dual victories for USC.Returning junior opposite hitter Brittany Abercrombie is also expected to help the Trojans this season. Standing at 6-foot-2, Abercrombie was named to the Pac-12 All-Conference Team last season. She also recorded career highs with a .500 hitting percentage, 16 kills against Washington State and 35 attacks against Colorado.Returning seniors include libero Taylor Whittingham, middle blocker Elise Ruddins and setter Alice Pizzasegola. Whittingham was named to the 2016 Pac-12 Volleyball All-Star team and led the team with 611 digs. In 2015, Ruddins started in each of the 36 matches the Trojans played and finished with 193 kills. Pizzasegola also appeared in all 36 matches as a setter last season and received a Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention.The Trojans are coached for the 16th straight season by head coach Mick Haley. He has led the team to two national championships and 15 NCAA Tournament appearances. This Friday, the team will play their first game against Marquette at 8 p.m. The Women of Troy then play two games on Saturday, facing off against Santa Clara in a 10 a.m. tilt followed by a game against UC Irvine at 8 p.m.last_img

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