No. 9 USC Women Continue Road Run In Arizona

April 7, 2009

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THIS WEEK: The USC women have upped their win streak to nine as the Trojans set off on their final regular-season road trip of the year. No. 9 USC (17-2, 5-0 Pac-10) carries on in its push for a Pac-10 crown with a winning run through Arizona. The Women of Troy will first face No. 61 Arizona (10-7, 1-4) in a 1:30 p.m. match on Friday (April 10) before going over to Tempe to play No. 25 Arizona State (10-6, 3-2) at 12 p.m. on Saturday (April 11).

CAMPBELL/ITA RANKING UPDATES: The latest Campbell/ITA national rankings have USC at No. 9 in the nation, as of April 7. Singles and doubles rankings were released March 31, with Maria Sanchez leading the way at #18 in singles and four other Women of Troy well settled in the nation's top-100: #26 Amanda Fink, #33 Sarah Fansler, #65 Alison Ramos and #68 Gabriela Niculescu. Three USC doubles duos also are nationally ranked: #5 Fink/Niculescu, #23 Niculescu/Sanchez and #56 Fansler/Kinstler.

SCOUTING ARIZONA: Arizona is ranked No. 61 and is 10-7 overall and 1-4 in Pac-10 play after falling 7-0 to both Stanford and Cal last week. USC is 45-15 all-time against Arizona including two 6-1 wins over the Wildcats last season. Arizona has #94 Danielle Steinberg nationally ranked in singles and #76 Marks/Rietsch ranked in doubles.

SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE: Arizona State is ranked No. 25 and is 10-6 overall and 3-2 in Pac-10 play after falling 5-2 at Cal and 6-1 at Stanford last week. USC is 41-19 all-time against the Sun Devils including this season's 5-2 win and a sweep last season. ASU has #3 Kelcy McKenna, #53 Nadia Abdala and #92 Micaela Hein nationally ranked in singles and #13 Hein/McKenna and #71 Abdala/Abdala ranked in doubles.

RECENT ACTION: USC extended its winning run out to nine consecutive dual-match victories and stayed perfect in Pac-10 play with a road run in Washington. Playing without #18 Maria Sanchez in the lineup due to injury, the Trojans first got a 7-0 win at Washington State and then pulled off a 4-3 win at #31 Washington. Against the Huskies, USC clinched the win relatively early by first claiming the doubles point and then taking three of the first four singles matches. Amanda Fink, Gabriela Niculescu and Alison Ramos each got wins from the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 positions to tally another important Pac-10 win for the Women of Troy.

THE 300 CLUB: USC head coach Richard Gallien hit a new benchmark early this season in claiming his 300th career victory. With a 4-0 win over Michigan State during ITA National Indoor Qualifying, Gallien bumped his career coaching record up to 300-128. He entered the 2009 season carrying an all-time record of 297-128, and he had posted a 235-104 record as head coach at USC. In his 16 years as a head coach ¬¬-- 13 of which have come at USC -- Gallien has strung together 13 straight NCAA appearances for his Women of Troy, 12 top-20 team rankings, six trips to the NCAA Quarterfinals, one to the NCAA Semifinals in 2006 and Round of 16 runs in the past two seasons. Under Gallien's watch, USC has finished no lower than 11th in the past nine years.

TOP GUNS: Thanks to a tagteam effort from sophomore Maria Sanchez, junior Sarah Fansler and senior Amanda Fink all spending the bulk of their time in the top three singles positions, the Trojans have had a reliable force at the top of the lineup for much of dual match play. Though injuries have interrupted some of her court time, #18 Sanchez has accumulated a 22-8 singles record on the season. #26 Fink leads all with 25 wins so far, including a 14-match winning streak for a 25-7 singles mark. #33 Fansler is at 18-12 overall, making her one of six Women of Troy holding at least 15 wins so far. #65 Alison Ramos is 23-9 overall; #68 Gabriela Niculescu is 23-9; and Leyla Entekhabi is up to 16-9 playing largely at the No. 5 and 6 positions.

SOLID AT SIX: Sophomores Lyndsay Kinstler and Cristala Andrews have been called upon several times this season to fill in at the No. 6 slot in the lineup, and both have come up big for the Women of Troy. Both boast winning singles marks overall and in dual match play. Kinstler is 11-10 overall and has gone 1-0 at the No. 5 position and 3-2 at No. 6. Andrews is 10-5 overall and 30- at the No. 6 position so far this season. They've both also factored into doubles play, as Kinstler ranks #56 in the nation playing with Sarah Fansler and Andrews has filled in recently with Alison Ramos and with Leyla Entekhabi for an undefeated 4-0 combined mark in dual match doubles.

FINK ON THE RUN: Senior Amanda Fink has won 14 straight singles matches entering the week, with glittering highlights coming in USC's Pac-10 stretch vs. Cal and Stanford. Fink's match-clinching win at No. 3 vs. Cal was followed by a jump to No. 2 with Sanchez out of the lineup and another straight-set win to open singles against Stanford. That went along with a clean slate in doubles with Gabriela Niculescu to help USC to the doubles point in both matches. For her dominance in the week, Fink picked up her first career honors as Pac-10 Player of the Week.

PAC-10 PUSH: USC took powerful steps forward in its campaign for its first Pac-10 team title by getting back-to-back big wins in recent matches with Cal and Stanford. The Trojans opened things with a 4-3 upset win over #8 Cal, clinching the match early with the doubles point and a string of straight-set singles wins capped by Amanda Fink at the No. 3 position. With Maria Sanchez out of the lineup the next day against #11 Stanford with injury, the Trojans adjusted and grabbed a historic win over the Cardinal -- who have either won or shared the Pac-10 title for the past 21 seasons. On March 28, #10 USC stormed to its first win over Stanford in 23 years with a 5-2 decision. The Cardinal had claimed the previous 50 straight dual matches against USC, but the Trojans came up big in doubles and followed up a quick win from Fink. A win at No. 5 from Leyla Entekhabi put the Trojans in position to clinch, while freshman Alison Ramos and sophomore Lyndsay Kinstler were gutting out three-setters on the other end of the court. Ramos pulled out her win first, and USC's streak-snapping win over the powerhouse Cardinal was in hand. Wins this weekend in Arizona would hold the Trojans as the only team undefeated in Pac-10 matches and clinch at least a share of the Pac-10 title for USC on the way into the regular-season finale against UCLA on April 17.

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