Big things are happening in the Pac-12 and the USC women's volleyball team is right in the middle of it. The Trojans made the Elite Eight of the D1 women's volleyball tournament last season before getting knocked out in five sets by Kansas.
They tip off the 2016 season against Marquette in the USC Baden Invitational Aug. 26. Head coach Mick Haley spoke with HERO Sports about the upcoming season:
HERO: Which players will log significant minutes for your team this year?
Coach Haley: Brittany Abercrombie, she’s a great point scoring person and an excellent blocker, outside hitters, Alyse Ford and Niki Withers, and freshman Khalia Lanier. Those four kids are the four we are going to count on right now. That will be the strength of our team.
HERO: What will be the biggest difference between this year's team and last year's team?
Haley: Last year, we had Samantha Bricio, and we could always count on getting points out of her. The girls this year all have to be on their A-game each night. We are losing 2 all-Americans. If we can be on our A-game with each match with our four outsider attackers, we’d be able to make up for those points. It’s going to take a while to see where we stand right now, so we have to be patient the first month or so.
HERO: Which newcomers do you think will make the biggest impact for your team this season?
Haley: Khalia Lanier is our best freshman; we will expect to see her play. Daley Krage and Raegan LeGrand are also some excellent freshman that will be huge assets to our team.
HERO: Which player do you expect to lead the team this season? Please name the captains if you know them.
Haley: Taylor Whittingham, Alice Pizzasegola and Elise Ruddins.
HERO: Is there one game you have circled on your calendar as your 'Game of the Year'?
Haley: Our opening match against Marquette — we will be able to see where we are at that game.
HERO: Is there anything else you want fans to know about your team?
Haley: It’s going to be a work in progress for us, but we will get better each month as we gain our confidence. We have a lot of new things we are putting in and new people. We will have some good days and days that we aren’t very good. We have to really learn how to support each other.
BR-12 USC TROJANS WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL SNAPSHOT
2015 Conference: 18-2, Pac-12 Conference
2015 Overall: 33-3, Elite Eight
2016 Projection: No. 5, Pac-12
Photo Courtesy: USC Athletics