Volleyball Advances To Elite Eight With Sweep Of Michigan State

Dec. 12, 2002

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - With an outstanding offensive performance, the top-seeded USC women's volleyball team makes its return to the NCAA Regional Final thanks to a 3-0 (30-17, 30-23, 30-15) victory over Michigan State in the semis on Thursday, Dec. 12, at UCSB's Thunderdome. The Women of Troy will face the winner of the Pepperdine-UC Santa Barbara semifinal in the Elite Eight tomorrow.

USC improved to 28-1 with its third 2002 NCAA victory, while the Spartans end the season with a 21-12 overall mark.

Every player that took a swing for the Trojans hit above .333 in the match. Outside hitters Keao Burdine and April Ross led with double figures, posting 10 and 11 kills, respectively. Burdine posted a .750 attack percentage and was one of three players to make only a single error in the three-game match.

'I was very happy with the way we played this match,' said USC head coach Mick Haley. 'Our serving was exceptionally good and I thought our setters really controlled the offense. This team definitely brought their 'A' game.'

USC's .454 hitting performance is its second highest of the year, while its 11 service aces marked a season high. Michigan State was held to a .200 attack percentage, five blocks and only one ace.

'USC is a very physical team that is very consistent and they make you pay for your errors,' said Michigan State head coach, and former USC head coach, Chuck Erbe who led the Women of Troy to four national titles during his 12 years in Los Angeles. 'They are one of the most physical collegiate teams I have ever seen in my coaching career.'

The Spartans were unable to keep up with the Women of Troy as USC quickly jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the opening game. The Trojans extended their lead to 10 at 18-8 and Michigan State was never able to gain ground.

After dropping game one 30-17 to the Women of Troy, the Spartans caught USC off-balance in game two and kept the score knotted through 6-6. At that point, senior Lauren Killian took advantage of an overpass for a kill, which began a 4-0 rally that gave USC the edge it needed. The Trojans maintained at least a two-point lead and then broke away with a 7-1 run to go ahead 23-17 before taking the game, 30-23.

The Spartans had lost their fire in the final game despite trailing by only two points at 12-9 thanks to three USC service errors. But the Women of Troy were too dominant at the net as they ran away with the eventual 15-point victory thanks to an error-free attack. USC hit .643 in the game with 18 kills and no errors. Michigan State was held to .261.

The West Regional Final will be played Friday night, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on Fox Sports West 2.

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