Yesterday, recent USC graduate and 3-time NCAA tennis champion Steve Johnson was eliminated in the third round of the U.S. Open. He was defeated in straight sets by #13 seed Richard Gasquet, 7-6, 6-2, 6-3. Still, Johnson showed lots of promise in his first Grand Slam tournament as a professional tennis player, and he becomes the first NCAA champion to reach the third round of the U.S. Open in 17 years.
Now to the news from around USC Athletics.
Women's Volleyball: The two-time national semifinalists and #5 ranked Women of Troy are off to an excellent start in preseason tournament play. They opened the season by defeating North Dakota, Texas A&M, and Texas State to win the Texas A&M Invitation, and this weekend they took down Northern Iowa, Boston College, and Mississippi State to win the Trojan Invitational.
With the departure of their top scorer and AVCA Player of the year, Alex Jupiter, USC has turned to senior outside hitter Katie Fuller to fill in the gap, but she has received some much-needed help from freshman newcomer Samantha Bricio. Together, the two outside hitters have racked up a combined 149 kills in the first six games, with 77 coming from Fuller. On defense, All-American libero Natalie Hagglund put her knee pads to the test, racking up 99 digs in six games. Hagglund, Bricio, and Fuller were all named to the All-Tournament teams for both the A&M and Trojan Invitationals.
With only two losing sets on their record, the Women of Troy look ahead to their next preseason tournament, the USC Classic, where they will face Cal Poly, San Diego, and Notre Dame. Shirts will be given away to the first 5,000 in attendance at the ND game.
Women's Soccer: The season didn't start quite as well for Trojan Futbol, which went 2-3 in the first two weeks. The campaign began with a 3-2 win over Cal St. Fullerton despite a red card that left them one player down. By scoring three goals in 12 minutes, USC prevailed and won their first season opener victory in four years. They then returned to McAlister Field for the home opener against Saint Mary's and won 4-1, with freshman forward Megan Borman scoring two goals in that game.
After that, it was downhill for SC. Last week, they suffered a 4-1 loss to Minnesota, and this weekend, in the USC Futbol Classic, they lost to San Diego and #6 Duke by a 2-1 score. In all three defeats, USC scored first, but fell behind to comeback efforts. The Women of Troy had opportunities to equalize, but strong goalkeeping by all three opponents denied them a chance to stop the skid. USC will play CSUN next weekend.
Men's Water Polo: The 4-time defending national champions began their quest for a 5-peat with three blowout wins at the UCLA Invitational, defeating La Verne, Pomona-Pitzer, and Chapman by a combined score of 65-10. Four different Trojans earned hat tricks in the three games, with junior Nikola Vavic, son of Coach Jovan, leading the overall goal count with 10 goals. Though USC will be facing much tougher opponents later in the season, it's a good sign that there's plenty of offensive power to be found on this team following the graduation of their top scorer, Peter Kurzeka.
The Trojans also have home-pool advantage on their side, as both the MPSF and NCAA tournaments will take place at USC this year. The Men's Volleyball team sold out the Galen Center when USC hosted the national championship game at Galen Center this past spring, so the team can expect a strong turnout from students and alumni if they make it to the end. Next week, the Trojans will play #19 Cal Baptist in their home opener.
That's all for the first week of the athletic year. With two defending national champion teams and seven more teams in the top 5, Trojan Athletics is aiming for the 2012-13 season to be a historic one. Check back every week for more updates.