The Women of Troy are at the top of their game in three sports this week:
- The women’s tennis team moved up to rank as the No. 1 in the nation for the first time since 2003.
- The top-ranked USC women’s sand volleyball team stayed undefeated with a trio of three-set matches to defeat No. 3 Pepperdine on March 24.
- The women’s golf team, also ranked No. 1, has three wins and six top 2 finishes in eight tournaments.
The women’s tennis team began 2015 ranked No. 14 in the nation in the opening set of team rankings. This week, USC catapulted from last week’s No. 7 spot to stand as the nation’s No. 1 team.
The Trojans last stood as the top-ranked team in the land back in 2003. USC’s previous best ranking this season had been at No. 3 on March 3.
Individually, six players continue to stand strong in the March 24 rankings. Still in the top 20 for the second time in her career, junior Giuliana Olmos leads the way at No. 11 for her career-best ranking. Below her are five more Trojans. Senior All-American Sabrina Santamaria now ranks No. 20 in the nation as she continues her comeback path since the former No. 1 was sidelined by a season-ending injury last year. Fellow senior All-American Zoë Scandalis is now at No. 49, with three USC freshmen rounding out the ranked crew: No. 64 Meredith Xepoleas, No. 65 Gabby Smith and No. 73 Madison Westby.
In doubles, USC boasts the No. 15 pair in the land in Olmos/Scandalis, who are joined in the rankings by the freshly ranked No. 19 team of Zoë Katz and Sabrina Santamaria, while Katz also remains ranked alongside teammate Gabriella DeSimone, now at No. 30 this week.
The top-ranked Trojans take their top billing on the road this week in the push to stay perfect in Pac-12 action:
- Friday, March 27: At No. 56 Oregon, 1:30 p.m. in Eugene.
- Saturday, March 28: At No. 44 Washington, noon in Seattle.
The top-ranked USC women’s sand volleyball team (7-0) went the distance with a trio of three-set matches to defeat No. 3 Pepperdine (6-2) in a dual, 3-2, at Merle Norman Stadium on Tuesday, March 24. The Women of Troy stayed undefeated and earned just their second dual victory against the Waves in nine meetings.
Before a live national television audience, the Trojans scored the first two points with wins at court four and five, respectively. Sophomores Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler got the job done first with a 21-19, 21-16 win over Sophie Asprey and Taylor Racich at four.
Despite a 23-21 loss in the first set, senior Bria Russ and freshman Jenna Belton fought back to tie the score with a 21-16 win in the second over Katie Messing and Corinne Quiggle. Belton and Russ came through with a 15-12 win in the third to post a 2-0 Trojan lead.
The Waves got on the board with a win at the top court where Kelley Larsen and Kellie Woolever defeated sophomores Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes, 21-17, 21-17. At court two, sophomore Sophie Bukovec and junior Alexa Strange had the upper hand with a 21-17 win in the first, but let up in a 21-16 second-set loss to Lara Dykstra and Becca Strehlow. The Wave duo put pedal to metal and earned a 15-11 win in the third set to even the dual at 2-2.
On court three, seniors Eve Ettinger and Meg Norton fell, 21-17, to Emily Cook and Delaney Knudsen in the first set, but were dominant in the second to win, 21-14. Ettinger and Norton continued to hold court in the third and completed their three-set win, 15-9, to seal the 3-2 dual victory for the Trojans.
Pepperdine’s loss marks the first time in four seasons that the Waves have lost more than a single match in the same season. Last year, USC handed Pepperdine its only loss of 2014 before the Waves went on to win the AVCA title. In 2013, Pepperdine was 20-0 before it lost in the title match.
At 7-0, the Trojans are off to the best start in program history. USC looks to extend that streak on Thursday, March 26, when it hosts Bakersfield (6-2) at 3 p.m. and Saint Mary’s College (3-4) at 4:30 p.m. Both matches will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Network.
The No. 1 USC women’s golf team, which has three wins and six top 2 finishes in eight tournaments this year, travels to Athens, Ga., for the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic on March 27-29, at the University of Georgia Golf Course, the site of the Trojans’ 2013 NCAA title.
In addition to USC and Georgia, the field for the three-day event includes Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Duke, Northwestern, Purdue, South Carolina, Stanford and UCLA.
The 12 teams will play one qualifying round of stroke play Friday. The top eight teams will move to the “Red” Bracket and play two rounds of match play Saturday and one Sunday.
USC, which won the event last year, will open with Georgia at 5:30 a.m. PDT Friday.