USC Volleyball Advances to Final Four


Before the 2010 campaign, I interviewed USC volleyball coach Mick Haley for a season preview. When asked to elaborate on his outlook for 2010, he said, “With the addition of our recruiting class, we should be a much better team—more experienced, deeper in talent. If everybody works hard and things goes the way we plan, we are going to be able to compete for a national title.” Today, his team took a huge step towards the title as they outlasted No. Stanford in five sets 20-25, 25-17, 22-25, 26-24, 16-14. The Women of Troy had dropped the two regular season meetings to the Cardinal, but they rallied for a gritty win in the Elite Eight when it mattered most. 

Here is the release:

December 11, 2010
NO. 6 SEED USC WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL ADVANCES TO 2010 FINAL FOUR WITH FIVE-SET WIN OVER NO. 3 SEED STANFORD

DAYTON, Ohio – Freshman outside hitter Falyn Fonoimoana (Hermosa Beach/Mira Costa HS) had a season-high 25 kills as the No. 6-seeded USC Women of Troy defeated the No. 3-seeded Stanford Cardinal in five sets Saturday (20-25, 25-17, 22-25, 26-24, 16-14) to win the NCAA Dayton Regional final. USC advances to the 2010 NCAA Final Four to be held next weekend at the Sprint Center in Kansas City to face the winner of tonight’s California/Washington match.

USC will be seeking its seventh national championship for women’s volleyball as the Trojans are making their sixth Final Four appearance in the last 11 seasons. The Women of Troy will travel to Kansas City having won 15 of their last 16 matches. USC snapped a seven-match losing streak to Stanford, dating back to the 2007 season. Stanford entered the match with a 10-2 all-time postseason record against USC.

“It’s one of the all time special wins in my career,” said USC head coach Mick Haley. “It was more about our special effort tonight. I have always put a premium on effort and I thought the effort was exceptional. It was the effort that did it tonight, not the execution. Anyone who missed this match missed one of the all-time great matches.”

USC out-hit Stanford by a .303 to .268 margin and held slight leads for assists, digs and blocks. The match featured 47 tie scores and 17 lead changes, including three lead changes in the deciding set.

Fonoimoana, the reigning 2010 Pac-10 Conference Freshman of the Year, was named most valuable player for the Dayton Regional after adding a season-high 14 digs while hitting .271 with four blocks. She finished with 33 kills and 20 digs in two matches during the regional.

Junior All-American Alex Jupiter was a bookend with Fonoimoana, recording 23 kills and 15 digs with two blocks while hitting .290. Junior setter Kendall Bateman posted 64 assists with 15 digs while freshman Sara Shaw posted a season-high 12 digs. Freshman libero Natalie Hagglund added 16 digs. The middle blocker tandem of junior Lauren Williams combined for 21 kills with Williams earning 13 kills and five blocks for a .393 clip while Olgard had eight kills and three blocks for a .636 clip (8-1-11).

The 2010 Pac-10 Conference Player of the Year Alix Klineman finished her Stanford career with a match-high 28 kills with 10 digs while hitting .266 for the Cardinal (27-4). Jessica Walker hit .750 for the Cardinal with 12 kills and no errors (12-0-16) and four blocks. Cassidy Lichtman had nine kills, 30 assists and 13 digs with four blocks for Stanford. Carly Wopat hit .471 on nine kills with an ace while Gabi Ailes led both teams with 25 digs.

Walker made it a 6-2 lead for Stanford in the first set, but Fonoimoana countered with three straight kills to tie it at 6-6. Fonoimoana started four straight as USC took the lead, 11-9. Klineman put the Cardinal back on top at 14-13 as Hayley Spelman started another four straight in a key sequence for Stanford to lead, 18-14. It was still a four-point deficit when another service error by the Trojans kept Stanford ahead at 22-17 for the eventual set win. Stanford had three service aces in the first set while USC recorded four serving errors.

The second set followed in similar fashion as the first with a sideout battle. Klineman hit deep middle to tie it at 8-8, but a Cardinal ball-handling error started three straight for the Trojans and the 11-8 USC lead after Klineman missed down the line. Fonoimoana started another four straight as USC took a commanding 17-11 lead. USC hit a service error to maintain a 19-14 lead, but responded with four straight as a Stanford service error gave the second set to the Trojans. USC hit .464 in the second set with 14 kills against one lone error.

Jupiter gave USC the 15-14 lead in the third set before the media timeout. Klineman pushed Stanford into a 4-1 run and the 18-16 advantage. Fonoimoana came back to tie it at 18-18, but Ailes knocked down back-to-back aces for a 21-18 score. Fonoimoana earned a solo block to get within one, but two key ball-handling calls against USC gave Stanford the 2-1 lead in the match.

USC took charge in the fourth set, racing out to the 9-4 lead. Stanford took the wind out of USC’s sails, however, with a 9-2 run of their own as Spelman put the Cardinal up by three, 14-11. USC then held a block party with three straight blocks, all involving Williams to tie it at 14-14. Rachel Williams gave Stanford a 19-18 lead before Olgard and Jupiter put the Trojans back in front, 20-19. Both teams traded points to a 23-23 score. Lauren Williams gave set point with a kill, but Lichtman tied it for the Cardinal. Fonoimoana did it again for USC and Stanford’s next attempt sailed long as the match went to a fifth and deciding set.

Lichtman got a solo block as Stanford took the 3-1 lead in the fifth set. A Stanford serving error and back row blocker call tied it at 3-3. Klineman and Walker blocked, followed by a USC hitting error to put the Cardinal back on top by two at 5-3. Stanford served an error and another hitting error tied it at 5-5. Klineman delivered from the back row as Stanford again led by two, 7-5, and both teams sided out as Stanford maintained the 8-6 score on the court switch. Rachel Williams got a stuff block on Fonoimoana for the 9-7 Stanford lead. Klineman made it a three-point lead with a kill, but Jupiter stopped the momentum as Fonoimoana and Lauren Williams followed with kills as USC took the 12-11 lead. Fonoimoana hit long and Klineman took advantage of the overpass as Stanford retook the 13-12 lead. Williams and Fuller then used a stuff block to tie it, but Walker gave match point to the Cardinal. Fonoimoana gave the key tying point for the Women of Troy and the Cardi
nal then hit long on its next attempt as USC held match point. Stanford set to the right side as Lichtman hit into the block of Fonoimoana and Olgard to give USC its ticket to the Final Four.

Notes: Tonight’s match mirrored the 2007 national semifinal match in Sacramento between USC and Stanford except it was the Women of Troy who held a 14-13 score in the fifth set before the Cardinal stormed back with three straight points to advance to the national title match…USC last defeated Stanford during the postseason in the 2002 national championship match…USC is 8-1 this season in five-set matches with the only loss on Oct. 1 at Washington…USC is now 63-23 in NCAA postseason play…the Women of Troy are hitting .313 in the 2010 postseason with a 2.70 blocks-per-set average…Alex Jupiter has hit .330 in four postseason matches this season with a 5.00 kills-per-set average…Jupiter now has 524 kills on the season, which places her fourth on USC’s single-season list (passing her mark of 522 kills, set last season)…Jupiter’s 617.0 points are No. 3 on USC’s single-season list…Kendall Bateman has 1,539 assists on the season, good for second on USC’s single-season list…Natalie H
agglund has 487 digs on the season, putting her eighth on USC’s single-season list.

USC 20-25-22-26-16
STAN 25-17-25-24-14

Records: USC (29-4), Stanford (27-4)
Kills: Alix Klineman 28 (STAN), Falyn Fonoimoana 25 (USC)

Team: USC STAN
1 .278 .306
2 .464 .188
3 .341 .366
4 .271 .235
5 .160 .217
Match .303 .268

2010 NCAA Dayton All-Regional Team
Falyn Fonoimoana, USC – MVP
Kendall Bateman, USC
Alex Jupiter, USC
Alix Klineman, Stanford
Cassidy Lichtman, Stanford
Katie Dull, OSU
Ashley Benson, IU

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