The 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.
COUNTDOWN AGAINST ALGERIA The Nigerian team will walk onto the refurbished pitch on superior ground against the Fennecs of Algeria, going by the statistics of their previous encounters.Till date, there has been 17 clashes between both teams (all at competitive level), with Nigeria winning eight times, drawing three and losing six. And Nigeria captain Mikel John Obi was less than three years old the last time Algeria defeated Nigeria, in the final of the 1990 Africa Cup of Nations in Algiers.Super Eagles’ current goalkeepers’ trainer Aloysius Agu was the Eagles’ goalkeeper and captain that day, 16th March 1990. It was a tough game at the July 5 Stadium in Algiers, but the Fennecs won their first (and still only) Africa title when Cherif Oudjani’s long range effort beat Agu for the only goal of the match.At that same competition, Algeria had beaten the Eagles 5-1 in the opening match. But the Eagles would remember that and pay back the Fennecs when lashing their hosts 5-2 in Oran in a 2006 World Cup qualifier on 4th September 2005.The first clash between both countries was on 10th January 1973, during the football event of the 2nd All-Africa Games that Nigeria hosted. The match ended 2-2. Seven years later, the Green Eagles would thrash the Algerians 3-0 to lift their first Africa Cup title.In their last four confrontations, the Eagles have enjoyed a winning streak against the Algerians, which is more than the three consecutive wins Algeria had over Nigeria between October 1981 and March 1982. In the qualifying race for Espana ’82, Algeria beat Nigeria 2-0 in Lagos and 2-1 in Constantine, and the Fennecs then came from behind to edge the Eagles 2-1 at the 1982 Africa Cup of Nations in Libya.This Saturday, Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho looks set to lead Nigeria’s charge for goals against the North Africans side with Victor Moses and Oghenekaro Etebo good to also start.The 20-year-old Iheanacho has scored in the team’s last four matches and in yesterday’s morning training he led attack while Watford ace Odion Ighalo, back in the squad after he missed last month’s game in Zambia, featured for the second team.Ighalo has failed to deliver in a green-white-green shirt of Nigeria and he is currently struggling to score goals in his second season in the Premier League.In a related development, Napoli FC and Algeria defender, Faouzi Ghoulam has joined the list of players sidelined with injury he suffered a groin injury wednesday.Twenty-five-year-old left back Ghoulam has been an injury concern and now it has been announced he is out of the clash in Uyo and will not be on the flight to Nigeria tonight.Ghoulam’s withdrawal has made it increasingly difficult for coach Georges Leekens to line up a formidable after three top players were also lost to injuries earlier this week.Midfielders Rachid Ghezzal and Ryad Boudebouz as well as striker Hilal Soudani opted out of the World Cup qualifier in Nigeria on account of injury.Ghezzal and Boudebouz were examined by Algeria team doctors before they were excused from the training camp, while Dynamo Zagreb striker Soudani did not even fly down to Algiers.They have since been replaced by Baghdad Bounedjah, Yassine Benzia and Ismael Bennacer.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Another Algerian star player ruled outFemi SolajaNigeria’s Super Eagles arrived Uyo lastnight briming with confidence and ready to pick another vital win against Algeria this Saturday in Russia 2018 WorldCup qualifying match at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.
Accra Hearts of Oak returned to winning ways in the Ghana Premier League with a narrow 1-0 win over Dreams FC in Dawu.Striker Kofi Kordzi scored the only goal of the game in the second half to condemn Dreams to their first defeat at home this season.Hearts of Oak threatened first when Joseph Esso curled a delightful free-kick that came off the top of the crossbar in the 14th minute.With Dreams struggling to muster any decent sequence of play, Hearts of Oak looked the more dangerous team every time they attacked.But it took another 10 minutes for the Phobians to sniff at Peter Sarkodie’s goal again, this time Daniel Afriyie’s glancing header from Raddy Ovouka’s pinpoint cross just going wide off the mark.Dreams had their first on target on the half hour mark with danger man Emmanuel Ocran shooting straight at Richard Attah from 20 yards.On the stroke of half time, Joseph Esso hit the underside of the crossbar, this time from a vile shot unleashed from inside the box after brilliant work on the wings to create space for himself in the area.The Phobians went into the break unlucky not to be ahead.Back from recess, Hearts of Oak continued from where they left off.They finally got their reward in the 54th minute when Kofi Kordzi twisted and turned in the box before firing a low drive into the bottom corner.The goal came at the end of some sweet intricate passing from Edward Odoom’s men.It was a deserved lead for the Phobians.Dreams almost levelled after the restart but Ibrahim Issah’s effort came off the woodwork before being cleared eventually.The rest of the second half wore on without clear-cut chances with Esso and Afriyie shooting wide towards the end.Goalkeeper Atta was booked for time wasting late on but the Phobians had victory wrapped then, making amends for their home defeat to Kotoko 7 days prior.Hearts will next face Ashantigold in Accra in a mid-week fixture.