While questions still run rampant after the first week of Trojan football, three other USC sports teams have gotten off to a strong start, with one of them looking to break out of their slump and get back into Pac-12 contention.
Here is your non-revenue update for Labor Day:
Women's Volleyball: In 2012, this team wasn't able to repeat the accolades of the 2011 team, which earned a Pac-12 title, a final four berth, and player of the year honors. But it was still a good year for the Women of Troy, reaching the 30-win mark for the eighth time in program history and finishing third in the toughest conference in the nation before having their season ended by the eventual national champion Texas Longhorns in the elite eight. This year, senior libero Natalie Hagglund will demonstrate her ninja-like mobility one last time, while last year's Pac-12 freshman of the year Samantha Bricio looks to replace departing All-American outside hitter Katie Fuller as USC's offensive juggernaut. USC is currently ranked fourth in the nation and projected to finish second in the Pac-12 behind Stanford.
USC kicked off the season at the Mortar Board Premier in West Lafayette, where they defeated 16th ranked host Purdue in four sets (21-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-16). The Boilermakers attempted to target Bricio and reduce her effectiveness on offense, but newcomer Ebony Nwanebu made a stunning first impression for SC. Nwanebu scored 15 kills and six blocks in the match, while Bricio came back from a slow to score 12 kills of her own. USC went on to take Western Kentucky and Alabama A&M in straight sets to win the tournament. Bricio received MVP honors by notching 25 kills, 11 digs, and seven blocks over the weekend.
Next week, USC goes back to the midwest to face TCU, Marquette, and Northern Illinois.
Women's Soccer: The rather disappointing 6-10-3 record belies the improvement that Ali Khosroshahin's team made last year. The team played in a program-record nine overtime games last season. One of those OT games was a narrow defeat to top-ranked Stanford in the Coliseum and another was a buzzer-beating victory over UCLA from a throw-in made with ten seconds left. The Women of Troy hope to change the trend of narrow defeats they suffered last year, losing eight games by one goal. They are already off to a good start, defeating San Diego and #11 San Diego State to open the season by scores of 4-2 and 4-1, respectively. As a result, senior forward Elizabeth Eddy earned Pac-12 Player Of The Week honors for scoring three goals, and USC is now ranked #22 in the polls.
USC then returned to McAlister Field for their home opener and continued their relentless pace by defeating Cal State Northridge 4-1. Freshman Tanya Samarzich earned her second-straight game winning goal and her third of the season, while Eddy notched her fourth goal of 2013 and the 14th of her career.
Next weekend, USC travels to the Minnesota Gold Classic to face Ole Miss and LSU.
Women's Cross Country: Finally, women's cross country got started under new management. After only two weeks with the Women of Troy, former TCU coach David Freeman took USC to Cal State Fullerton's Mark Covert Classic. The team finished in third place behind Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. Junior Erica Capellino finished third individually, setting a new PR with a time of 17:54. It is Capellino's fourth top-3 finish of her USC career. USC will next compete at the Aztec Invitational in three weeks. USC won this event last year, with Capellino winning the individual title.
Also next weekend, the five-time defending national champion men's water polo team will begin their 2013 campaign at the Triton Invitational at UCSD. Games against Cal Baptist, Loyola Marymount, Air Force, and Redlands are on tap. If USC wins their sixth consecutive title this year, head coach Jovan Vavic will set a new record for the most national titles won by any coach in USC Athletics history.