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first_imgThe Women of Troy look to salvage their season this week, as they travel to Arizona and UCLA to close out a disappointing 2014 campaign. This season has been a rocky ride for the team (14-14, 7-11 Pac-12), which started the season 6-0, but has dropped 14 of its last 22 matches, including four straight — the team’s longest losing streak since 2009. These losses all came in conference play against Oregon, Oregon State, California and Stanford. USC dropped out of the NCAA top-25 for the first time all season.Block solid · Junior middle blocker Alicia Ogoms leads USC with 90 blocks this season, just a year removed from a early-season injury. – Brian Ji | Daily TrojanUSC has struggled at home this season, winning only four matches while losing eight. On the contrary, the Women of Troy have performed much better on the road or at neutral locations, going 10-6 on the season so far. With that in mind, it might be a good thing that the Women of Troy will be ending their season on the road.USC will look to improve its dismal record against Pac-12 opponents against the Wildcats and the Bruins. Despite this record, the Women of Troy have seen stellar season performances from a number of their players. Junior outside hitter Samantha Bricio has been a major aspect of the Women of Troy’s offense this season. She has a team-high 442 kills on the season, as well as an impressive 77 service aces. Bricio is also second on the team with 299 digs.Sophomore outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu has had a nice season after returning from an injury with 284 kills, 14 service aces and 124 digs. Freshman outside hitter Lauryn Gillis, junior middle blocker Alicia Ogoms and sophomore outside hitter Elise Ruddins have also produced triple-digit kill numbers for the Women of Troy. Most of the assisting has been done by senior setter Hayley Crone and sophomore setter Alice Pizzasegola, who have combined for 948 assists.In order to be successful on the road, the Women of Troy will have to win close sets, a goal that USC has failed to accomplish over the course of the season. In the last two matches alone, USC has lost a set by five points or less on four different occasions.In the case of No. 17 UCLA (19-10, 10-8), the Women of Troy have the benefit of having met the Bruins earlier this season and should know what to expect come Friday.First, however, come the No. 14 Wildcats (22-8, 11-7 Pac-12), who have not faced USC yet this season, but will be ready for the challenge. Arizona is rolling right now, having won four of their last five matches. The key players for the Wildcats are outside hitters Madi Kingdon and Taylor Arizobaland middle blocker Halli Amaro. Kingdon has been the dominant force on offense for Arizona, racking up 549 kills, which is more than double of the number of kills that any of her teammates have tallied. She is also third on the team in both digs and blocks, with 348 and 62, respectively. Arizobal is second on the team in kills with 265 and has 57 blocks on the season. Amaro is fourth on the team in kills with 155, but she also has more blocks than anyone on the squad, with 84.Following their match at Arizona on Wednesday, the Women of Troy will finish their season on Friday at UCLA. When these two teams clashed earlier this season, then-No. 20 UCLA upended then-No. 9 USC 3-0, and the Women of Troy lost a pair of those sets by just two points.Five players for UCLA boast 110 kills or more on the season, led by outside hitter Karsta Lowe with 590 kills. Lowe, who was just named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week for the fifth time this season, is the only player on the team to have a triple-digit number of both kills and digs. Outside hitters Reily Buechler and Olga Strantzali, and middle blocker Zoe Nightingale, will also be important UCLA players to watch. Buechler is second on the team in kills with 300 and has been consistent on defense with 94 digs and 41 blocks. Strantzali has recorded 164 kills and has 17 service aces, which is second to Lowe’s team high of 29 service aces. Nightingale has 120 kills and leads the Bruins in blocks with 90. UCLA is coached by Michael Sealy, who led his team to an NCAA Championship in 2011.In order to become eligible for the NCAA Tournament, USC will have to win one of these two matches — an unfamiliar position for the team that’s earned a trip to the tournament for the last 22 straight years, and is just four seasons removed from a berth in the national semifinals. The Women of Troy and veteran head coach Mick Haley will need all players to step up in order to finish the season strong and carry some momentum into the postseason.last_img read more