Women’s volleyball hosts Arizona on Friday night

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first_imgTrevor Sochocki | Daily TrojanTaming the Cats · Junior setter Nikki Leonard (left) and senior libero Taylor Whittingham (right) and the Women of Troy prepare for Arizona.No. 22 USC women’s volleyball hosts Arizona tonight for their second match of the week. The Women of Troy are coming off of a solid four-set victory against Arizona State, while the Wildcats have their first of two Los Angeles matches starting with USC. On Wednesday night against the Sun Devils, USC (11-5, 3-2 Pac-12) picked up its 1,000th program win. They’re one of only 17 Division 1 programs in the NCAA to reach that mark. It’s another milestone for head coach Mick Haley, who has led the Women of Troy to their 600th, 700th, 800th and 900th wins as well. Freshman outside hitter Khalia Lanier led the team’s four-set victory with a career-high 22 kills. “I have to realize even if I’m a freshman, I have a big impact,” Lanier said. “I just want to do whatever I can for my team at the end of the day.”She also notched her eighth double-double of the season along with an ace and a block. “That’s kind of been a theme on all teams that I played on,” Lanier said. Lanier joked that her club coaches used to tell her, “If we lose, it’s your fault.” Haley laughed, tapping her on the shoulder saying, “maybe I’ll try that.”Lanier was joined by junior opposite Niki Withers and sophomore outside hitter Alyse Ford in the double-digit kill club. Each of them put up 12 kills. This strong offense is something that will carry the Women of Troy through their grueling Pac-12 schedule. Strong offensive play comes from good passing, something that senior libero and captain Taylor Whittingham brings to the team. “She’s our captain, she’s consistent and we want to have her in there,” Haley said. “Even if it’s on one leg.”While Whittingham stabilizes the Women of Troy’s defense, she also brings a mature presence to her teammates on the court. “I really pride myself on being a calming force out there,” Whittingham said. “Anyway that I can help others and they can help me in return is something that’s important.”As they prep for the Wildcats (10-6, 2-2 Pac-12), Haley wants to see his team continue to improve. Since day one this season, they’re a team that’s been getting better through each match for the most part. They’ve had some hiccups here and there, but minor ones. “I think now they’re starting to get their confidence,” Haley said. “We just need to be a little bit more consistent in our offensive execution and a little bit better in defense.”To limit Arizona, USC will have to find a way to stop sophomore outside hitter Kendra Dahlke. She leads the Wildcats with 204 kills, averaging 4.08 kills per set. To put that in comparison, Lanier has 229 kills on the season and averages 3.88 kills per set. In terms of defense, Haley would like to see continued improvement from the middle backs. Against Colorado, the team tallied up 89 digs. Against Arizona State, they only had 61. With the drop off, Haley wants to see more of an effort from his middle backs in order to continue their offensive production. “[Whittingham], the two middle backs and the setters were digging a lot of balls,” Haley said. “Colorado was a great performance.”When USC gets more digs, they get more swings on offense. When they get more swings than their opponents, USC will usually win the match. “That transition game is the next level for us,” Haley said. “That starts with defense both at the net and then the backcourt.”The Women of Troy will look to move to 4-2 in the conference with a win against Arizona. The match will start at 7 p.m. at the Galen Center.last_img

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