Volleyball caps year off with trip to Final Four

first_imgIt started with the top recruiting class in the country. It ended with an impressive run but, ultimately, a difficult loss in the Final Four.Strong finish · Junior outside hitter Alex Jupiter led the Women of Troy to a Final Four berth in December. – Tim Tran | Daily Trojan The No. 6 USC women’s volleyball team had beaten California twice during the year in Pac-10 play. But winning a third time proved to be too great a feat for the Women of Troy, as the Golden Bears swept USC 25-14, 25-17, 25-20.“It’s so disappointing to lose to a team like that at the end, especially after beating them twice during the season,” said junior middle blocker Lauren Williams.The Women of Troy (29-5, 14-4) were plagued by a slow start due to rotation and net violations, and dug themselves in a hole they could never recover from.“We couldn’t get our defense to adjust to what we had done the first two times with them,” said USC coach Mick Haley, “so I think that we were mentally tired.”In the preceding match, the Women of Troy found themselves against another familiar opponent, the Stanford Cardinal — the only team to beat USC twice during the regular season.“In both of the Stanford matches, for some reason, I didn’t feel like we had a very good effort,” Haley said.Fortunately, the third time around, it was the Women of Troy that were able to come out on top.“We changed our systems a little bit to try to accommodate what they did, and at that point in the season they weren’t fittingly able to adjust to what we were doing, so it worked out quite well,” Haley said.USC had defeated New Mexico and San Diego in opening round matches at the Galen Center. The Women of Troy then went on to sweep Indiana in the regional semifinal.USC’s No. 6 seed would not have been possible without strong performances during conference play. Entering the Final Four, the Women of Troy had won nine straight and 15 out of 16 matches.Haley considered the start of the second half of Pac-10 play to be the big turning point for his team.USC entered the second half of the conference season with a 6-3 record after losing to Stanford, Washington and Arizona State.But the Women of Troy were nearly flawless the rest of the way, losing only to Stanford and finishing in third place in the conference.One major reason for the team’s success was the large number of newcomers, which could have originally been seen as a hindrance. USC boasted six freshmen and a redshirt sophomore, who became eligible midway through the season.“You can’t measure how important it was for the freshmen to get all the way to the Final Four,”  Haley said. “They have a vision now of how it works and what they want to do every time.”One of these freshmen, outside hitter Falyn Fonoimoana, was named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. She also earned All-Pac-10 Honors in her debut season. Joining her were outside hitter Alex Jupiter and middle blocker Lauren Williams. Setter Kendall Bateman earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention.Later in the year, Jupiter, Williams and Bateman were named All-Americans. Two-time All-American Jupiter was granted first team honors, while Bateman was named to the second team and Williams to the third.But even with all these victories and awards, the Women of Troy are nowhere near ready to settle.“Our expectations are national championships. That’s what we want,” Haley said. “I think we have a plan for the next 12 months culminating in getting to the Final Four and this time winning.”The players hope to duplicate last year’s success as well, but hope to take it one step further.“It’s my last year. I want a championship,” Williams declared about her upcoming final season.last_img read more

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Women’s hoops falls to UCSB by 11 points

first_imgHowever, the Trojans struggled to run offense and keep possession of the ball all night, finishing with 19 turnovers, one lower than their season high mark of 20, and 9 more than UCSB’s total.  Trakh commended his team for its continuous effort despite being so shorthanded. Freshman guard Endyia Rogers posted 10 points and six rebounds with just one turnover against UCSB. ( Yannick Peterhans | Daily Trojan) The shorthanded Trojans were undefeated before the road contest in Santa Barbara, posting a 3-0 mark following a trio of comfortable wins to open up the 2019-20 campaign.  The USC women’s basketball team suffered its first loss of the season Monday, falling to UC Santa Barbara 57-46.  Trakh also added that a recent slew of injuries have forced the young Trojans into a “baptism by fire,” as they’ve been forced to adjust to the speed and intensity of the collegiate game on the fly.  Trakh attributed USC’s free throw woes to inexperience.  The Gauchos made USC pay for its turnover woes, winning the points off turnover battle by a mark of 22-5, a gap of 17 points in a game that was decided by 11. “I don’t fault the young kids at all — there’s going to be a learning curve, and they’re a talented group that’s working hard,” Trakh said. “We’ve just got to keep moving in the right direction and being very patient with them.” Injuries and mistakes killed the Trojans, who were without standout graduate transfer guard Stephanie Watts and senior forward Kayla Overbeck due to injuries. They remain without freshman guard Madison Campbell and redshirt sophomore guard Shalexxus Aaron, who have yet to make an appearance this season due to their own respective ailments.  The Trojans’ late push fell short, however, as the Gauchos pulled away in the late stages to bring the lead to double digits. The Gauchos were 1-2 heading into the matchup, coming off a tight loss to San Jose State. A strong stretch from the Trojans gave them the lead following a 5-0 personal run from Rogers, but the Gauchos answered back with an 11-0 run to jump out to a lead they did not relinquish.  “I think how we bounce back and what kind of heart and desire we play with will give me a barometer on this team,” Trakh said. “The future is bright — we just have to be patient.”  “I think that’s youth and understanding; you’ve gotta be ready to play and understanding that teams are going to come after you,” Trakh said. “I think that’s a learning experience.” The previously mentioned comeback effort nearly came to fruition as freshman guard Alyson Miura sank a clutch 3-pointer to bring USC within 2 points with four and a half minutes to play.  USC women’s basketball is back in action against star junior guard Chennedy Carter and No. 6-ranked Texas A&M Saturday at Galen Center at 5:30 p.m. Santa Barbara was also led by junior point guard Danae Miller, who filled the stat sheet with six rebounds and four assists to go along with 12 points.  The offensive struggles would continue for the Trojans, as a dismal 20-point second half ensured UCSB never had to look back. The Gauchos won the game comfortably despite a late push from head coach Mark Trakh’s unit.  Stout defense from UCSB limited the Trojans to 3 points for the final five minutes of the first half, and the Gauchos carried a 34-26 advantage into halftime.  Saturday will certainly be an early test for Trakh’s young squad, and the Trojans will be eager to make a statement against a premier opponent following their first loss of the season. The Gauchos were also spurred by a dominant performance from freshman forward/center Ila Lane, who had a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds, including five offensive rebounds. The win moves UCSB to an overall mark of 2-2 on the year. As for his expectations for Saturday’s big matchup, Trakh said he’s looking forward to seeing how his team responds to the UCSB defeat and competes against some of the top talent in the country.  The freshman duo of forward Alissa Pili and guard Endyia Rogers shouldered the offensive load. The two built upon strong starts to their Trojan careers; each posted 10 points, and they combined for 11 rebounds.  The Trojans shot just 25% from the free throw line, on 2-of-8 shooting. In the Trojans’ first three games, which were all wins, they shot over 90% from the charity stripe in two games and 78% in the other. While not the only issue in USC’s first loss, this would be troubling for the Trojans should the trend continue. last_img read more

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Liverpool thrash Leicester at King Power to stretch lead

first_imgChelsea beat Tottenham in a big win for Frank Lampard over his former mentor Jose Mourinho on Sunday, but the gap between the two is back down to three points as the Blues lost 2-0 at home to lowly Southampton.Spurs came from behind to beat Brighton 2-1 thanks to goals from Harry Kane and Dele Alli, while United moved just a point further back in seventh as they too overturned a poor start to thrash Newcastle 4-1 with Anthony Martial scoring twice.– Liverpool lay down a marker –Liverpool’s trip to their closest challengers was the top billing of a busy Boxing Day card, but there was no contest as the newly crowned world champions showed their class.“It’s one of many successful nights so far this season,” said Liverpool midfielder James Milner.“We are not even halfway and so much can change and happen. The strength of this team is we take it one game at a time.”Roberto Firmino’s header was scant reward for a dominant first half display as Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah wasted big chances.However, three goals in seven minutes in the final quarter ensured the scoreline fairly reflected their control.Milner doubled the visitors’ lead before Firmino’s classy finish made it 3-0.Trent Alexander-Arnold helped set up all of his side’s first three goals and rounded off a stunning individual display by drilling home the fourth from outside the box.“We played our last two games against two of arguably the best teams in the history of the Premier League,” said Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, whose side also lost 3-1 to Manchester City on Saturday.– Tottenham, Man Utd close on Chelsea –Nathan Redmond (centre) slides in to double Southampton’s lead at Stamford Bridge © AFP / Adrian DENNISAfter the highs of Sunday, Chelsea again struggled when faced with breaking down stubborn defensive opponents in Southampton.The Blues have now lost to West Ham, Bournemouth and the Saints in their last four home league games.“We are being asked a different question at home. At the moment we are not answering them,” said a frustrated Lampard. “We do not manage to pick up that final pass.”Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl’s decision to rest in-form talisman Danny Ings paid off as his replacement Michael Obafemi scored just his second Premier League goal with a calm finish into the top corner.The visitors then secured a second straight win to move up to 14th when Nathan Redmond prodded past the onrushing Kepa Arrizabalaga 17 minutes from time.Spurs were still feeling the after-effects of that Chelsea defeat with Son Heung-min suspended and confidence low when Adam Webster headed Brighton ahead midway through the first half.Kane swept home at the second attempt after his first shot was saved by Mat Ryan before Alli then delivered all three points with a delightful chipped finish from an acute angle.Mason Greenwood (right) and Marcus Rashford (left) both scored in Manchester United’s 4-1 win over Newcastle © AFP / Paul ELLISUnited were also beaten 2-0 at bottom-of-the-table Watford on Sunday and another frustrating evening seemingly beckoned when Matty Longstaff scored his second Premier League goal – both of which have come against the Red Devils.However, unlike when the Magpies beat Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s men 1-0 in October, the response from United was emphatic.Martial fired in at the near post with the help of Newcastle ‘keeper Martin Dubravka before a thundering finish from Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford’s header made it 3-1 before the break.Another defensive error then teed up Martial to dink over Dubravka for the fourth early in the second half.– Arteta’s slow start –Mikel Arteta could not inspire an instant turnaround for Arsenal in his first match in charge © AFP / Glyn KIRKArteta got an early lesson in the flaws that have blighted Arsenal’s season as they were caught out trying to play from the back to concede the opening goal when Dan Gosling put Bournemouth in front.Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang again rode to the Gunners’ rescue to equalise just after the hour mark, but a point leaves Arsenal still down in 11th.“It was intense, I was so excited, I just wanted to pass that energy to the players and I really enjoyed it,” said Arteta.Sheffield United are sixth, behind Tottenham only on goal difference, as they missed the chance to close to within a point of Chelsea in a 1-1 draw with Watford.Crystal Palace climbed up to eighth thanks to Jordan Ayew’s brilliant individual run and finish a minute from time to beat West Ham 2-1.Aston Villa won the battle of two of the bottom three as Conor Hourihane’s fine strike was enough to beat Norwich 1-0.0Shares0000(Visited 18 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Four-midable: Trent Alexander-Arnold had a hand in all four of Liverpool’s four goals at Leicester © AFP / Oli SCARFFLONDON, United Kingdom, Dec 26 – Liverpool stretched their Premier League lead to 13 points by outclassing second-placed Leicester in a 4-0 win on Boxing Day as Manchester United and Tottenham cut the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea.Mikel Arteta got off to an underwhelming start as Arsenal manager with a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth, but Carlo Ancelotti had a more positive impact on his Everton bow as Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s brilliant diving header earned a 1-0 win over Burnley.last_img read more

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