USC Women of Troy win advance to the second round after beating Cleveland State 3–1 sets. (Jen Mac Ramos / Annenberg Media)

USC Women of Troy Advance From First and Second Rounds

Thursday, Dec. 3 vs. Cleveland State

It wasn’t a quick match for the USC Women of Troy on Thursday night in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Championship, where USC faced the Cleveland State Vikings and eventually beat them 3–1.

The Women of Troy play against Cleveland State at the Galen Center. (Jen Mac Ramos / Annenberg Media)

Captain Samantha Bricio lead the way with 21 kills and 14 digs. Sophomore Brittany Abercrombie had 10 kills and freshman Alyse Ford had nine kills. Junior Libero Taylor Wittingham had 18 digs. There were 10 total team blocks in the match.

The second set ended with Cleveland State winning 27–25, but featured 18 tie scores and seven lead changes.

“I think Cleveland State represented the Horizon Conference really well,” USC coach Mick Haley said. “I think they don’t have anything to hang their heads about.”

Coach Haley said that he would’ve liked to have seen the Women of Troy win in three sets, but Cleveland State didn’t allow that to happen.

“I thought we went into the third and fourth sets and got leads and executed quite well,” Coach Haley said. “I was pretty pleased with that. They caused us a bunch of problems in different areas and it was probably a really good thing that they did that because that just helps us get ready for this tournament. The fact that we had to play under pressure from ourselves a little bit is also good.”

Alicia Ogoms on the court. (Jen Mac Ramos / Annenberg Media)

Senior Alicia Ogoms said that they did not underestimate their opponent and felt that they played very well in this game.

“I think we went into the halftime and we were talking about — it was more things we were making mistakes on our side of the net,” Ogoms said. “We were giving away points that we normally don’t. We weren’t serving as tough as we usually do.”

Preparing for the second round game against the University of San Diego (USD) Toreros, who had defeated Northern Arizona earlier in the day, Coach Haley said that USD showed a lot of talent.

“They played well tonight,” Coach Haley said. “Northern Arizona is a good team. We had good teams in this first round. I was really impressed with the quality of the teams we had here. I think they play in a good league. I think they’ll come out and play as good as they can play tomorrow night. It’ll be up to us to bring our A-game because we’ll have to be very good to beat them.”

“Just focus before the game, do everything we normally do,” Bricio said. “I think we should change anything because everything we have been doing has been working.”

Elise Ruddins, a junior, agreed with Bricio and said that their pregame routine is very important.

“We definitely need to stay on top of our routine and, tonight, refuel really well,” Ruddins said. “We have really great nutritionists here so they’re doing a great job doing that. Also refueling tomorrow.”

Friday, Dec. 4 versus University of San Diego

The Women of Troy celebrate their victory and advance to the third round. (Jen Mac Ramos / Annenberg Media)

The pace in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championships was energetic, as the USC Women of Troy went on to sweep the University of San Diego Toreros.

Samantha Bricio, senior captain, lead the way again with 21 kills and eight digs. Senior middle blocker Alicia Ogoms had 11 kills while junior libero Taylor Wittingham had 13 digs.

The first set was decided 25–20, followed by a second set decided even closer with a score of 25–23.

“San Diego really came storming out and got us back on our heels,” Coach Mick Haley said. “I was so proud of our team, the way they never panicked, they stayed right with it, we inched our way back. They started a little bit differently than we thought they would so the match ups were different than we planned. So we adjusted in the second set.”

Coach Haley said that in the second set, they had six hitting errors and that’s why the set was so close. But in the first and third set, that wasn’t the case.

“The real key was, Sets 1 and 3, we had a total of one hitting error total,” Coach Haley said. “That is really good volleyball. You don’t give your opponents free points. We played good volleyball tonight. We played USC volleyball.”

Ogoms said that they were excited to try and get to the next round and play as best as they could.

“For me and Sam, that was the last game that we’re ever gonna play in this building,” Ogoms said. “I think that definitely was a bit of extra motivation for us.”
Samantha Bricio sets up to serve. (Jen Mac Ramos / Annenberg Media)

“We were having extra fun today,” Bricio said. “It was just really exciting to play to get to the next level.”

Ogoms said that they’re approaching every team the same way, regardless of what round it is.

“Every team is going to try to play their best against us just because of where we’re ranked and our name,” Ogoms said.

Ogoms also said that communication was key for them during the match. Ruddins complimented the team for their effort and agreed with Ogoms about communication.

“We’re really stoked to have this good rhythm and good energy and it was fun playing them,” Ruddins said.

The energy was something Bricio also commented on after the game, especially in the difference between the game against Cleveland State on Thursday and the game against USD.

“The energy was different,” Bricio said. “I don’t know what it was.”

“I think we were a little tight,” Ogoms said, responding to Bricio. “It was our first NCAA [Championship] game. The freshmen were a little nervous. It kinda gets them, I guess. But we’ve done this a few times, so we were just trying to lead by example.”

(L-R) Alyse Ford, Elise Ruddins and Brittany Abercrombie celebrate after defeating USD 3–0 sets. (Jen Mac Ramos / Annenberg Media)

With it being their last games at the Galen Center, Bricio said that it hasn’t hit her yet like it has Ogoms

“She was crying,” Bricio said of Ogoms while she laughed. “I don’t feel like this is my last game at Galen because my mind right now is just, get to the second round. Right now, I know I’m going to keep playing. I think it’s going to get me in our last game.”

Ogoms said she loves playing at the Galen Center, so having it be the last time she was going to step onto that court was sad for her.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” Ogoms said. “I’m glad we ended the way we did. That was a good way to end our careers here.”

The USC Women of Troy will face Creighton University at 8 p.m. at the Jenny Craig Arena on Dec. 11. USC defeated Creighton earlier this season with a sweep.

You can reach staff reporter Jen Mac Ramos here, or follow them on Twitter at @jenmacramos.