No. 18 USC Women Lock In For NorCal Trip To Stanford and Cal

March 30, 2010

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The USC women square up for an important Pac-10 road trip this week, as the No. 18 Women of Troy pay visits to No. 12 Stanford and No. 11 California for their conference clashes. It will be the Trojans' first look at the Cardinal after their earlier match was rained out, while USC aims to avenge a loss to Cal from a February meeting with the Bears. USC (11-6, 3-0 Pac-10) takes on No. 12 Stanford (13-1, 2-0) at 1:30 p.m. on Friday (April 2) in Palo Alto before going to Berkeley to face No. 11 California (13-4, 1-1) at 12 p.m. on Saturday (April 3).

The latest Campbell/ITA national team rankings (as of March 30) have USC ranked No. 18. The latest individual rankings also were released March 30. There, Maria Sanchez is up to #2 in the singles nation to lead the Women of Troy, with #26 Alison Ramos settled just outside the nation's top-25. She is followed closely by Trojan freshman #30 Danielle Lao, with fellow freshman Valeria Pulido at #103. In doubles, Lao/Sanchez rank #46 after their first week playing together, while Kinstler/Sanchez are ranked #62 and Pulido/Sanchez rank #63.

USC got two key Pac-10 wins last week, preceding a 7-0 sweep of WSU with a dramatic 5-2 win over No. 19 Washington. After grabbing the doubles point with new lineup, USC staved off Husky hopes of a comeback thanks to heroic three-set wins from Sarah Fansler and Maria Sanchez. The Women of Troy were clinging to a 3-2 lead as Sanchez fought off match point and Fansler shrugged off a tough loss in her second set to refocus on the task at hand. Fansler battled back to clinch the win for USC, while #3 Sanchez passed up #15 Venise Chan to close out the victory.

Stanford is ranked No. 12 in the nation and is 13-1 overall and 2-0 in Pac-10 play after extending its win streak to six with 6-1 wins over Arizona State and Arizona last week. Stanford's lone loss of the year was a 6-1 loss to UCLA in February before rains canceled the Cardinal's match at USC. Stanford has five players ranked in singles: #8 Hilary Barte, #36 Mallory Burdette, #61 Lindsey Burdette, #69 Stacy Tan and #109 Carolyn McVeigh. In doubles, Stanford has #2 Barte/L. Burdette and #34 M. Burdette/Tan. USC is 18-57 all-time against Stanford after snapping a 50-match losing streak to the Cardinal with USC's 5-2 win last season at Marks Stadium. It was USC's first win over Stanford in 23 years.

Cal is ranked No. 11 in the nation and is 13-4 overall and 1-1 in Pac-10 play after beating Arizona 7-0 and losing to Arizona State 4-3 last week. Cal has three players ranked in singles: #3 Jana Juricova, #15 Marina Cossou and #44 Mari Andersson. In doubles, Cal has #7 Andersson/Juricova and #73 Cossou/Siwosz. USC is 31-26 all-time against the Bears after falling 5-2 in their nonconference match earlier this season. Last year, USC beat Cal 4-3 in the teams' only meeting.

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. Sanchez and Juricova will likely clash again at No. 1 singles this Saturday in Berkeley.

En route to her current #2 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. After a gutsy win over Washington's #15 Venise Chan last week, Sanchez moved from #3 to #2 in the nation to currently hold a nine-match win streak for a 23-5 overall singles record and 14-1 mark in dual-match play. She may well have two more top-10 opponents on her docket this week if Stanford's #8 Hilary Barte and Cal's #3 Jana Juricova are at the top of the ladder for the coming Pac-10 clashes in NorCal.

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 an 18-9 overall singles record and is now 7-6 playing at the competitive No. 3 singles position. Pulido has a booming 23-7 overall singles mark, including a 13-4 dual-match record playing largely at the No. 4 slot. Both are enjoying time in the national rankings, with Lao at #30 and Pulido at #103.

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 21-12 overall singles record and is 10-5 in dual-match play, ranked #26 in the latest singles rankings.

USC's doubles lineup has seen some juggling throughout the year. Before last week, the tough No. 1 position had seen Maria Sanchez alongside either Lyndsay Kinstler or Valeria Pulido -- both ranked pairings who combined for a 7-7 mark at the top slot. Danielle Lao and Alison Ramos were a strong duo at No. 2 with a 9-2 record at that position. The No. 3 spot had shifted hands, with Cristala Andrews and Pulido joining forces for seven dual matches and a 4-3 mark at the third spot. Once healthy, Sarah Fansler joined with Kinstler, and the pair has posted a 4-1 record in the past five USC dual matches. Fansler/Kinstler have now won four straight together. USC pieced together new pairings at No. 1 and No. 2 last week to great success, with Lao/Sanchez winning two and earning themselves a ranking of #46 as of March 30, and Pulido/Ramos also getting a pair of wins. As a whole, USC is 11-1 when it has won the doubles point, and is 0-5 when losing the doubles point in dual-match play.

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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