Perhaps the only thing hotter than the current Los Angeles heat wave has been the play of Samantha Bricio and the women’s volleyball team. The No. 6-ranked Women of Troy tacked on four wins in just 12 combined sets to remain undefeated in the season and capture the 2015 USC Classic Crown on Friday night.USC (10-0) stayed perfect throughout the year with sweeps of Utah State, Pepperdine, Idaho State and New Mexico in a span of just two days and, in the process, upped its streak to nine straight sweeps. The Women of Troy also won their 29th consecutive set and stayed perfect at the Galen Center this season, culminating with the 3-0 victory (25-23, 25-10, 25-20) against New Mexico on Friday evening.Head coach Mick Haley was impressed with how his team handled the tough two-day playing schedule.“It was very difficult, but I think our team met the challenge wonderfully, and their attitude about it was great,” Haley said. “Each game, they came out ready to get out there, compete, and they played hard.”Against the Lobos, senior All-American outside hitter Samantha Bricio had yet another stellar performance, logging 21 kills on a scorching .487 hitting percentage to pace USC while also adding eight digs, two blocks and a service ace.The successful tournament also moved Bricio up in USC’s career record books. In ninth place all-time in career kills heading into the USC Classic, Bricio jumped three former USC greats in Katie Haller (1990-93), Nancy Hillman (1985-88) and April Ross (2000-03) to now sit at sixth all-time in program history with 1,586 career kills.Another player who had a big night out on the pins was freshman Alyse Ford. The Laguna Beach, California native finished second on the team with a career-high 11 kills on a .321 hitting percentage, while adding four digs and a block.With all the pressure that comes with being a freshman in the tough Pac-12 conference, Ford knows her contributions will be important for the team moving forward.“As a freshman, I just try to do my part and try to contribute as much as I can,” Ford said. “There are definitely moments when I feel pressured, like when teams target me on serve receive, but I just try to stay in my zone and not let the pressure get the best of me.”Furthermore, junior libero Taylor Whittingham anchored a USC defense that held the Lobos to a mere .110 team hitting percentage. The Rancho Santa Margarita, California, native averaged 6.33 digs per set and logged a match-high 19 digs, her ninth match with double-digit digs.Though her defense has certainly aided USC on its current winning streak, the veteran Whittingham knows her team has to take things day by day.“It’s great, but we’re not really thinking about any streak; we’re just focused on one match at a time. It’s a completely different team from last year — we have a different energy and confidence about ourselves. If we can keep those two things up, I think we can be unstoppable,” Whittingham said.By the end of the night, Bricio, Ford, and senior middle blocker Alicia Ogoms were named to the all-tournament team, with Bricio earning MVP honors for the eighth time in her career.USC began the tournament early Thursday morning with a match against Utah State. The Aggies, however, would prove to be no match for the high-powered USC offense, as the Women of Troy completed the 3-0 sweep (25-22, 25-9, 25-14). In the match, Bricio was feasting from behind the service line, tying her career-high and the USC single-match record with eight aces in just three sets.That serving streak would continue on into the night, as Bricio added five more aces to help the Women of Troy defeat the Pepperdine Waves 3-0 (25-20, 25-15, 25-18) in their second match of the day. Bricio added a match-high 17 kills on a .394 hitting percentage to lead USC, while Whittingham contributed 16 digs and an ace.The quick turnaround on Friday morning was no problem for the Women of Troy as they easily handled Idaho State (25-20, 25-22, 25-18). This time, it was Ogoms who led USC with seven kills and eight blocks at the net. Junior middle blocker Elise Ruddins added eight kills and four blocks of her own, freshman defensive specialist Victoria Garrick tallied 11 digs and an ace and junior setter Alice Pizzasegola dished out 19 assists to go with four digs.It would be more of the same on Friday evening when the Lobos came to the Galen Center. New Mexico put up a fight throughout the night, but nothing could stop Bricio as USC earned its ninth straight sweep. To go along with Bricio and Ford’s 32 combined kills on the night, freshman setter Baylee Johnson logged her third-career double-double and second of the day with 17 assists and 12 digs to dictate the USC offense. The win would improve USC’s series record to 6-1 all-time against New Mexico.With four more victories added to the column, USC remains perfect at 10-0 on the season heading into the final week of non-conference play. The Women of Troy will now take a few days off to rest before they travel to Norman, Oklahoma, to take part in the Oklahoma Nike Invitational on Sept. 17-18.
FIRST SUPER-6 FANCIES They include MEET JUSTIN, who was noted making rapid headway to finish 2-1/2 lengths eighth to GANJA MAN over the straight last Saturday. He will appreciate the longer distance and with outgoing champion jockey Dane Nelson sticking with the ride. I take the Patrick Lynch-trained colt to win from CAPTAIN GRANVILLE, who was just behind him on his recent debut when third to SAMORA over 1500 metres. OFFICIAL REPORT, having beaten better in the not-too-distant past and now dropped in class, is preferred to the recent winner, FRANKENSTORM, in the third race, the Pick 3 Easy to Win Bonanza Trophy ($450,00-$400,000) claiming over the round five course. Nine have been declared, but OFFICIAL REPORT with Ruja Lahoe and the consistent FRANKENSTORM (speedy) are the two standouts. BARS OF GOLD, a winner in much better company when last raced on September 12, has been thrown in for a tag by trainer Anthony ‘Baba’ Nunes in lowly $180,000 and should slaughter his 15 rivals over 1500 metres with leading jockey Ellis retaining the ride. Despite the suspicious drop this low in class, BARS OF GOLD will report in good condition (seen at exercise) and should lead home GRAN CORAZON, PRINCE O’SHAUN, and EASTWOOD. The last three races in the first Super-6 should be won by the 2-y-o GOLDEN GLORY, with Aaron Chatrie riding for trainer Gary Subratie; CHIEF SECRETARIAT (Nelson up) in the Pick 3 Five Times A Day Trophy over 1820 metres, a non-winner of three event for four-year-olds and up; and DARLIN EMMA in the seventh for maiden four-year-olds and up over the straight. (1) MEET JUSTIN/CAPTAIN GRANVILLE (2) OFFICIAL REPORT/ FRANKENSTORM (3) BARS OF GOLD (4) GOLDEN GLORY/ OCEAN SEEKER (5) CHIEF SECRETARIAT/ ROUGH PATRICK (6) DARLIN EMMA/ALL FOR THE GLORY. – O.C. A huge upset by PRINCESS SALLEMA at 43-1 in the eighth race at Caymanas Park last Saturday ensured that the Pick-9 eluded punters and the carryover to tomorrow stands at $1.8 million. PRINCESS SALLEMA, one of three winners for the promising apprentice Bebeto Harvey on the card, also ensured that there were no takers in the late Super-6, resulting in a $1.3 carryover from race six to 11. The Pick-9 will be conducted from race three to 11 and the first Super-6 from race two to seven. We look at the first Super-6, which commences with the Pick 3 Simple Ting Fi Win Trophy over 1600 metres, to be contested by 11 maiden three-year-olds. MEET JUSTIN