No. 8 USC Women Take On Two At Marks Stadium

Jan. 28, 2008

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THIS WEEK: The No. 8 Women of Troy are hoping for clear skies this week, as USC (2-0) aims to restart a rain-interrupted match against No. 41 Long Beach State (1-1) on Wednesday (Jan. 30) at 3:30 p.m. at Marks Stadium before getting back to its regular 2008 schedule of play, which has USC lined up against No. 18 Pepperdine (1-0) at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday (Jan. 31).

ITA RANKING UPDATES: USC (2-0) has begun the season ranked #8 in the nation. In preseason singles rankings (released Jan. 8), the ITA has junior Amanda Fink ranked #51 and sophomore Gabriela Niculescu ranked #78. In doubles, Fink/Niculescu rank #5 in the nation. #41 Long Beach State has no ranked players, and #18 Pepperdine has #99 Sylvia Kosakowski ranked in the preseason ITA rankings.

USC VS. LBSU: USC is a perfect 29-0 all-time against Long Beach State after opening the 2007 with a 7-0 sweep of the 49ers. #41 Long Beach State is 1-1 after opening the year with a 6-1 win over San Diego and falling 7-0 to Cal. Last season, LBSU reached its fifth NCAA Tournament in the last six years, and finished the year with a 17-9 overall record.

USC VS. PEPPERDINE: USC is 34-12 all-time against Pepperdine after posting a 6-1 win over the Waves in 2007. #18 Pepperdine is 1-0 on the season after opening with a 5-2 win over Cal Poly. Last year, the Waves finished the year 20-10 overall and reached the NCAA Second Round.

RECENT RESULTS: USC took two attempts at playing out its dual match with Long Beach State last week, but rains kept stopping play before a decision could be reached, leaving only singles wins for Leyla Entekhabi, Gabriela Niculescu and Amanda Fink. That USC-LBSU match will be replayed on Wednesday, starting from a 0-0 score at all positions. USC was able to complete a match with UC Irvine last week during a clearing in the weather, as the Trojans topped the Anteaters 7-0 behind a match-clinching singles victory from Entekhabi at the No. 6 position.

LAST SEASON: USC made its ninth straight appearance at the NCAA Championships after making its fourth straight second-place finish in Pac-10 action. USC posted a 19-5 overall record and reached the NCAA Championships Round of 16, where the Trojans fell 4-3 to its 2007 NCAA Semifinals opponent Miami.

SENIOR STAR: Headlining the recent successes of the Women of Troy has been senior Lindsey Nelson. The 2007 Pac-10 singles champion and three-time All-American has now made back-to-back trips to the NCAA singles final. A two-time Honda Award finalist, Nelson is USC's lone senior on the roster this year, and she brings a 91-27 overall singles record into the dual match season.

BACK FOR MORE: USC has two National Rookies of the Year on the roster for 2008. Now a junior, 2006 Rookie of the Year Amanda Fink is is joined by 2007 Rookie of the Year Sarah Fansler. Fansler and Fink stacked up at No. 2 and No. 3 singles, respectively, throughout much of the 2007 season. After leading the Trojans in singles wins with 32 as a freshman, Fansler earned a spot in the NCAA Singles Championships along with Nelson. Fink shined in singles and doubles once again, and earned her second All-Pac-10 selection.

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Gabriela Niculescu sat out her first year at Troy but is good to go for 2008. She and Amanda Fink have already teamed up in fall doubles action, claiming the ITA West Regional doubles championship and entering the 2008 dual match season as the #5 doubles team in the nation.

FIRST THINGS FIRST: USC has added four freshmen to the 2008 roster, and all four have already jumped into the win column. Cristala Andrews, Leyla Entekhabi, Lyndsay Kinstler and Maria Sanchez have all proven themselves as winners, tacking up victories in dual match play and in individual tournaments this season.

WHAT'S TO COME: In order to stretch USC's NCAA appearance run to 10 straight trips, the Women of Troy will have a long dual-match season to power through. The only teams to beat the Trojans during the regular season in the past three years ¬-- since Lindsey Nelson took up residence at Troy -- have been Pac-10 teams Stanford, Cal and UCLA, and nonconference foe Baylor. The Trojans will have their usual two clashes with the Pac-10 schools, and the only out-of-state nonconference trip on the docket will take USC to Texas for a dual match tilt in March.

ON GALLIEN'S WATCH: As head coach Richard Gallien enters his 13th season at Troy, he has strung together 12 straight NCAA appearances for USC along with 11 top-20 team rankings, nine consecutive journeys to the NCAA Championships, six trips to the NCAA Quarterfinals and one to the NCAA Semifinals. Under Gallien's watch, USC has finished no lower than 11th for the past nine years. He has compiled a 216-36 overall record and .692 win percentage at USC. In his 15 years as a head coach (also coaching the men at Pepperdine prior to coming to USC), he boasts a 278-120 (.698) career mark.

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