The USC Women's Volleyball team has faced several high-ranked opponents this season: UCLA, Cal, Stanford, even the defending champions Penn State. But tonight, they may face their most difficult test all season when they take on the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine in the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament on ESPN3.com at 9 PM PT.
Forget the idiotic seeding by the NCAA officials that placed USC at #7 and Hawaii at #10. Look instead at the last coaches' poll, which put USC at #1 and Hawaii at #3. The #2 team, Nebraska, was eliminated last week, so for all intensive purposes, this match is #1 vs. #2. But what really makes it hard is the location: this match will take place in Honolulu on the campus of the University of Hawaii, where a sold out crowd of over 7,000 is expected to show up to cheer on the host team.
More after the jump.
Hawaii's top player is senior outside hitter Kanani Danielson, a 3-time All-American with 454 kills, 18 aces, and 67 blocks. She's only 5'11'', but she has become the top player in the WAC and will prove a challenge against the SC front line. USC will need to rely on the 6'5'' Alexis Olgard to contain Danielson's ferocious spikes at the net. On the offensive side, sophomore libero Natalie Hagglund will need to get loud to overcome the green and white fans in Honolulu and communicate with her teammates. In the first two rounds of the tournament, Hagglund scored 30 kills and 30 digs against Yale and Tulsa.
The winner of this game will play the winner of Pepperdine vs. Kansas St. tomorrow. This match could very likely go to five sets, so coach Mick Haley will need to keep the Women of Troy energized and motivated throughout the weekend. Hey, they're in Oahu. It's not like they are traveling to some oppressively cold corner of the country.
Again, the game is on ESPN3.com at 9 PM PT. That's midnight for you east coast Trojans, but if you find yourself unable to sleep and have nothing to do, check it out, it should be good. We can make this our game thread too if anyone is interested.
The quest for #95 continues tonight.