No. 21 USC Women Face Fresno State On Wednesday

March 16, 2010

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The USC women are looking to pull out of a short losing skid that has seen the Trojans take a pair of tough losses in recent matches. Now 8-6 overall, No. 21 USC sets up at Marks Stadium to change momentum and put up a fight against Fresno State. The Trojans host the Bulldogs at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday (March 17).

The latest Campbell/ITA national team rankings (as of March 16) have USC ranked No. 21. The latest individual rankings also were released March 16. There, Maria Sanchez remains ranked #3 to lead the Women of Troy, with #20 Alison Ramos also settled in the nation's top-25. They are followed by Trojan freshmen #32 Danielle Lao and #82 Valeria Pulido. In doubles, Pulido/Sanchez rank #56 and Kinstler/Sanchez are ranked #62.

USC was dealt back-to-back losses last week, first by another top-10 team in a 5-2 loss to No. 9 Baylor and then from No. 32 Arizona State in a 4-3 nonconference road defeat. USC's #3 Maria Sanchez was able to capture tough three-set wins in both matches for the Trojans, also beating another top-10 opponent in Baylor's #8 Lenka Broosova and getting her 20th singles win of the season with a victory over ASU's Micaela Hein. #21 Alison Ramos also had a pair of three-setters in the week, falling to her Baylor opponent but getting a 6-1, 0-6, 6-3 win over Nadia Abdala in the No. 2 match at ASU. Similar to USC's previous 4-3 loss to UCLA, the match at ASU also came down to the Trojan freshmen Danielle Lao and Valeria Pulido on courts three and four, respectively. Pulido was edged out in a third-set tiebreaker, and Lao slipped in the third as the Sun Devils grabbed the win.

Fresno State is unranked and enters the week with a winless 0-10 overall record after losing 6-1 to No. 37 Pepperdine last week. Anastasia Petukhova is the Bulldogs' lone ranked player, standing at #10 in singles in the latest individual rankings. USC is 14-1 all-time against Fresno State, winning 6-1 in the teams' last meeting in 2008. Fresno State's one win over the Trojans was a 5-4 victory in 1997.

The USC men and women swept the March 2 Pac-10 Player of the Week awards thanks to a powerful week of play from junior Maria Sanchez. Ranked #3 in the nation in singles, Sanchez got two more wins in the week, including an impressive upset of California's #2 Jana Juricova. After a smooth 6-2, 6-2 win over San Diego State's #58 Julia Trunk earlier in the week, Sanchez and the No. 10 Trojans went up against No. 3 California. Battling it out at the No. 1 singles position, Sanchez and Juricova played out three tough sets. When Juricova answered Sanchez' first-set win by taking the second set, Sanchez pulled ahead 2-0 in the third. Juricova responded to tie it 2-2, but Sanchez blasted out the next three games with a pair of breaks to go up 5-2. Juricova broke her back, but Sanchez had the last word with one more break to claim a strong 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 victory, helping secure the junior's second career Pac-10 Player of the Week selection.

En route to her current #3 singles ranking, Maria Sanchez has faced five top-10 singles players so far in this 2010 dual-match play, and the junior has beaten all five. Sanchez' only loss at her No. 1 singles slot for the Trojans came to Baylor's then-#17 Lenka Brosova in a three-setter, but Sanchez had the last word on that one with a win in a rematch during another USC-Baylor dual match recently at Marks Stadium. Sanchez pulled off the three-set win in that one, adding Broosova back to her list of top-10 wins to go along with victories over #9 Josipa Bek of Clemson, #2 Jana Juricova of Cal and #5 Yasmin Schnack of UCLA. Sanchez currently holds an 20-5 overall singles record and is 11-1 in dual-match play.

USC freshmen Danielle Lao and Valeria Pulido have been quick fits into the lineup for the Women of Troy. Lao has battled illness and injury and still stands strong for USC, holding a 15-9 overall singles record and is 4-6 playing at the competitive No. 3 singles position. Pulido has a booming 20-7 overall singles mark, including a 10-4 dual-match record playing largely at the No. 4 slot.

Alison Ramos has leapt into the No. 2 singles position for the majority of USC's dual matches this year, and the sophomore has been holding strong at that competitive spot. She's toting an 19-11 overall singles record and is 8-4 in dual-match play, ranked #20 in the latest singles rankings.

Junior Cristala Andrews earned a spot on the prestigious All-Tournament Team at the ITA National Team Indoors after an undefeated run at the No. 6 singles position during the tourney. She currently holds the most singles wins on the team with a 23-8 overall mark.