The USC women’s volleyball team bounced back after a sweep at the hands of its crosstown rivals at home last week, knocking off No. 4 Washington (25-20, 28-26, 25-20) and Washington State (25-17, 25-15, 25-11) in straight sets.Road warriors · Senior middle blocker Lauren Williams led USC with 15 kills in the Women of Troy’s win at Washington State Saturday. – Carlo Acenas | Daily TrojanNo. 13 USC (7-3, 2-1) went into Pullman Saturday and handily defeated the unranked Cougars (8-4, 0-2) behind a dominating offensive performance, as the squad hit .447 on the evening.“There was no letdown against Washington State, which was great,” USC coach Mick Haley said. “The team was really focused.”Senior All-American middle blocker Lauren Williams led all players with 13 kills while hitting .571, and Fuller added 12 kills for the Women of Troy while hitting .579.Two dominant runs in the first and third set keyed the victory for USC.The team broke away from a 4-4 tie in the opening set with a 15-5 run, then followed that with a 16-5 burst in the closing set.“We were really good at attacking throughout the match,” Haley said. “They couldn’t handle a 6-foot-5 body in the middle like [Williams].”USC started its trip handing Washington its first loss of the season Friday. It was the team’s first victory against the Huskies (9-1, 1-1) in Seattle since 2003.Sophomore outside hitter Sara Shaw and junior outside hitter Katie Fuller both recorded career highs with 15 kills to lead the Women of Troy.“I thought we had a chance to beat Washington,” Haley said. “I just didn’t know it would be a 3-0 win on the road. But we took advantage of a good situation. We played consistent[ly], made [just] a few errors and pulled it out.”After the UCLA game, Haley decided to move Shaw into the starting lineup in favor of sophomore outside hitter Kirby Burnham, who saw limited action against the Washington schools.The lineup change worked.Shaw hit .513 in the two matches while recording a total of 23 kills, 17 digs and two blocks.“Sarah has been sick for a long time, and is just now looking like she’s getting stronger,” Haley said. “[Shaw] actually has more playing experience than Kirby, and it looks like she has her confidence now, too.”Sophomore libero Natalie Hagglund tied a school record against the Huskies for most digs (30) in a three-set match, and senior All-American setter Kendall Bateman had 41 assists.USC comes home for two of the toughest matches on its schedule, squaring off against No. 1 California (13-0, 3-0) and No. 2 Stanford (8-1, 2-1) next weekend.“It’s going be a real battle against Stanford and Cal next week,” Haley said. “Cal is the No. 1 team in the nation, and Stanford is going to want to come in here and win after losing to them last week.”The Women of Troy host California at 7 p.m. Friday, then play Stanford at 6 p.m. Saturday evening.
Sophomore driver Jacob Mercep’s 44 goals rank second on the team this season. (Josh Dunst | Daily Trojan)After a close 10-9 victory against the formerly top-ranked Stanford in the championship match of the Mountain Pacific Invitational last Sunday, No. 1 USC will take on two more top-10 opponents this weekend in No. 8 Long Beach State and No. 6 Pepperdine.The Trojans are coming off a strong weekend, not only securing a championship win but also sweeping the MPSF weekly honors. Freshman goalie Nic Porter was named Newcomer of the Week for the second time this season, while sophomore driver Jacob Mercep earned USC’s first Player of the Week honor of the season.Following the accomplishments of the past week, the team shifted its focus to prepare for Long Beach State and Pepperdine, drawing on strategies that have contributed to its prior successes.“We always have a specific preparation,” Mercep said. “[Head coach Jovan Vavic] does his job and the other coaches do their job very well. They break down the other team, and what they are trying to do, and when the game comes, we are ready for it and we know what’s coming.”The Men of Troy will face their first test of the weekend when they visit Long Beach State on Saturday. The two teams met at last weekend’s Mountain Pacific Invitational, where the Trojans bested the 49ers 14-8. Although USC has an all-time record of 70-15 against Long Beach, last year’s meeting between the two teams was quite close, with the Trojans narrowly defeating the 49ers in overtime at home.To come out on top against Long Beach, the Trojans will need to play well at both ends of the pool. A cohesive defensive effort will be necessary to counter the 49ers offense, led by redshirt junior attacker Austin Stewart, who boasts a team-high 33 goals this season. Capitalizing on offensive opportunities will also be important, as sophomore goalie Marwan Darwish has a .434 save percentage.After returning from Long Beach, the Trojans will face Pepperdine on Sunday. The Waves enter the weekend with an 11-8 overall record after a sixth-place finish in the Mountain Pacific Invitational. Pepperdine’s leading scorer is senior center Chris Dilworth, who has put up 43 goals so far this season. His performance has not gone unnoticed by the Trojan coaching staff, who have focused on defense in practice this week.“Defending fast breaks and opponents’ frontcourt offense is always our main emphasis, and I think we will only grow in our form during this season,” Mercep said of the team’s preparation.The Trojans plan to apply the lessons they learned in last weekend’s victory against Stanford, which handed the Trojans their only loss of the season, to this weekend’s matches against opponents of similar calibers.“Certainly we learned that we are tougher than we thought we were,” Mercep said of the Trojans’ tournament performance. “Whether things went good or bad, we showed character, and showed that we are really strong, collective and we stick together. We showed that we really can perform the way we set it up at the meetings, the way we agree upon doing.”Despite their No. 1 ranking, the Men of Troy continue to consider their potential for growth.“[Our play] can always be better,” Mercep said. “We are always trying to improve every day. We really strive towards excellence.”The weekend’s first opportunity for the Trojans will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at Long Beach State. The Trojans will host Sunday’s 1 p.m. match against Pepperdine at Uytengsu Aquatic Center.
Neil Warnock has revealed he tried to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham when he first arrived at Crystal Palace.Kane has been one of Spurs’ star performers this term, hitting 11 goals in all competitions so far.But Warnock says the striker could have been in an Eagles shirt this summer, revealing he came close to landing the 21-year-old back in August when he was on the fringes of the first team under Mauricio Pochettino.And now the Palace boss must find a way to shackle Kane when the sides meet at White Hart Lane on Saturday.Warnock said: “I’ve tried to get him a few times this year.“He’s a good lad, a genuine lad. He’s an exciting player, his first thought when he gets the ball is positive.“When I came in he wasn’t involved at the time. We thought there was a chance of getting him on loan but unfortunately they’re in that horrible cup on a Thursday night.” 1