No. 21 USC Women Host A Pair Of Pac-10 Opponents

March 23, 2010

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The USC women settle in at home to dig into Pac-10 play this week. The Women of Troy have a string of conference clashes rounding out the rest of the regular season, with the Washington schools coming to Marks Stadium this weekend. No. 21 USC (9-6, 1-0 Pac-10) will first host No. 19 Washington in a 1:30 p.m. match on Friday (March 26) before facing Washington State at 12 p.m. on Saturday (March 27).

The latest Campbell/ITA national team rankings (as of March 23) have USC ranked No. 21. The latest individual rankings 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 powered to a much-needed win last week, topping visiting Fresno State 6-1 with a string of straight-set singles wins to end a slump of back-to-back losses the previous week. The Women of Troy kicked out ahead with a smooth sweep of doubles play before rolling to a victory clinched by Danielle Lao.

Washington is ranked No. 19 in the nation and is 9-2 overall and 1-1 in Pac-10 play after opening with a 5-2 win over Arizona and a 5-2 loss to ASU. Washington has #6 Denise Dy and #15 Venise Chan ranked in singles and #11 Ardies/Dy ranked in doubles. USC is 16-2 all-time against the Huskies, with Washington handing the Trojans a 4-3 loss in the 2009 NCAA Second Round in the teams' last meeting. USC had won the previous six matches against UW, with Washington's other win coming in 2003.

Washington State currently is unranked in the nation and is 8-7 overall and 1-1 in Pac-10 play after falling to Cal State Northridge and San Diego in 4-3 losses last week. The Cougars beat Arizona 6-1 and lost to ASU 5-2 in Pac-10 action the previous week. WSU has #75 Liudmila Vasilieva ranked in singles and no ranked doubles teams. USC is 15-0 all-time against the Cougars, including last season's 7-0 win in Pullman.

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 Broosova 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 then-#8 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 a seven-match win streak for a 21-5 overall singles record and 12-1 mark in dual-match play. She may well have another top-10 opponent on her docket this week if Washington's #6 Denise Dy is healthy and playing at the No. 1 singles position on Friday.

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 16-9 overall singles record and is 5-6 playing at the competitive No. 3 singles position. Pulido has a booming 21-7 overall singles mark, including an 11-4 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 a 20-11 overall singles record and is 9-4 in dual-match play, ranked #20 in the latest singles rankings.

USC's doubles lineup has seen some juggling throughout the year. The tough No. 1 position has seen Maria Sanchez alongside either Lyndsay Kinstler or Valeria Pulido -- both ranked pairings who have combined for a 7-7 mark at the top slot. Danielle Lao and Alison Ramos have been a strong duo at No. 2, holding a three-match win streak with a 9-2 record at that No. 2 position. The No. 3 position has shifted hands, with Cristala Andrews and Pulido joining forces for seven dual matches and a 4-3 mark at the third spot. Most recently, however, a healthy Sarah Fansler has joined with Kinstler for a 2-1 record in the past three USC dual matches.

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, but has been sidelined by injury for recent matches.

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