Women’s volleyball splits matches against Stanford, Cal

first_imgSarah Kim | Daily TrojanHome woes · Junior outside hitter Niki Withers spikes the ball in a loss on Sunday. The Women of Troy are just 7-7 this season at the Galen Center.No. 25 women’s volleyball split its matches over the weekend. The Women of Troy (14-7, 6-4 Pac-12) swept Cal (8-12, 2-8 Pac-12) on Friday (25-22, 25-21, 25-18), but then they were swept by No. 14 Stanford (12-6, 6-4 Pac-12) on Sunday (22-25, 19-25, 21-25).Head coach Mick Haley gives credit to Stanford for getting the win on Sunday, but he wanted to see more from his team.“I felt like we should have won,” head coach Mick Haley said. “We had some real nice stretches of play, but I felt like maybe we’ve got to be more determined.”Freshman outside hitter Khalia Lanier led the team with 22 kills on the weekend. Sophomore outside hitter Alyse Ford put up 19 kills and junior opposite Brittany Abercrombie recorded 16 kills.Senior libero Taylor Whittingham put up 21 digs on the weekend, and she has 17 double-digit dig matches this season. Against Cal, Whittingham moved into fourth with 1,538 digs, ahead of Nancy Hillman (1985-88, 1,536 digs), on USC’s all-time dig leaders list.Along with being the foundation to USC’s defense, Whittingham is a leader on the court.“More of an opportunity to show and be a senior leader out there and calm down the freshmen,” Whittingham said.Against Stanford, the Women of Troy played tough, but the Cardinal threw a block party at the net, out-blocking USC 14-6.“They make points with their blocking,” Haley said. “They can’t manufacture points many other ways.”Stanford’s lead blockers, Inky Ajanaku, Merete Lutz and Audriana Fitzmorris, stand at 6-foot-3, 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-6, respectively, and they combined for 6.5 blocks in the game. In contrast, USC’s lead blockers senior middle blocker Elise Ruddins and Lanier stand at 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-2, respectively.“It’s difficult for our hitters to get used to that,” Whittingham said. “But now we know what to expect for the next time we play them.”Despite the height differential, Haley noted that he was OK with the team’s blocking performance. He was more focused on the team upping the velocity on their serves to limit Stanford’s height advantage at the net.“We needed to help ourselves with the serve to keep them off the net so they couldn’t attack us with their height,” Haley said.USC has completed first half of conference play. At 6-4, they’re tied for third in the conference, but it’s really anybody’s chance to win it all.“We have to win the rest of our games,” Whittingham said. “That’s basically all it comes down to.”With 10 matches left to play in the Pac-12, Haley has his focus set on winning through November.“We have to win in November,” Haley said. “Even if we’re ugly, we want to win any way we can win.”Against Stanford, USC went on some scoring runs when the team was running on all cylinders. It’s those glimpses that the Women of Troy play to their full potential.“I’m really trying to impart our team to absolutely kick it up in the internal fight,” Haley said. “Sometimes they don’t know how good they are, and I’m just trying to tell them.”For the Women of Troy to win their final matches of the season, the intensity and fight level will be key. He knows it’s hard to ask from the team considering it’s hard for them to play competitive six-on-six during practices between injuries and resting players to keep them at full playing level for their matches.“I don’t like it that they seem to not just give every ounce of energy,” Haley said. “They have to try to defeat the opponent. Once we get to that point, then we have a chance to get really good.”USC will be back at home this weekend facing Utah and Colorado to start off the second half of Pac-12 play.last_img