USC Women’s Volleyball Hosts Trojan Invitational to Open 2021
LOS ANGELES – Same year, new outlook. It will have been just 146 days between matches when the USC women's volleyball team takes the court at Galen Center to open the 2021 season. Though little time has passed, much has changed for the Women of Troy, who enter the fall campaign with new faces and renewed focus.
Second-year head coach Brad Keller has established the foundations of continuity despite the transitional and unstable time that much of the nation has endured. The Trojans may have gone 7-8 in the spring but were competitive against the Pac-12's top teams in several five-set losses and ended the shortened season on a four-match winning streak.
Those same Trojans return the core of their offensive firepower and now will welcome a proven crop of transfer athletes and a strong freshman class to Troy this fall.
Now in her fifth year in the Cardinal and Gold, All-American outside hitter Brooke Botkin has her sights set on the program's top 10 in career kills. She led the Women of Troy in kills, points, and attacks in the spring and will be called upon to carry a big load this fall as well. At the pins, the Trojans also bring back senior Brooklyn Schirmer and juniors Kalen Owes and Emilia Weske.
At the heart of the offense, senior setter Raquel Lázaro returns after a junior season in which she ranked third in the Pac-12 in assists. Middle blocker Candice Denny is also back and returns alongside junior middle Madison Horin. Like Denny, graduate setter Sarah Nelson is back for a final season as well. Among the Trojans' back-line defenders, sophomore Sam Hastings, junior Keila Barra, and senior Kylie Baumert all return to the lineup with starting experience under their belts.
Always strong on the recruiting trail, USC's incoming freshman class is poised to make big contributions in year one. Middle blockers Tyrah Ariail and Katelyn Smith, and setter Elle Glock all join the Women of Troy for their first collegiate action this fall.
During the offseason, the Trojans sought to improve on the court via the NCAA transfer portal and have brought in four players who can step in and make an immediate impact. In the middle, USC brings in Sabrina Smith (UCLA) and at outside hitter, the Trojans add Paige Hammons (Florida) and Shannon Scully (Pepperdine) to the fold. USC also bolsters the setting lineup with the addition of Mia Tuaniga (Long Beach State) who will play her first collegiate season after LBSU was inactive during the 2020-21 season.
After playing just five home matches in the spring (2020-21) season, USC will kick off the fall with three home contests against Denver, Campbell, and CSUN in the Trojan Invitational (Aug. 27-28). The Women of Troy will be tested early with a trip to Lexington, Ky., for matchups against Northern Iowa, Creighton, and defending NCAA champion Kentucky (Sept. 3-4). The Trojans then head to Hawai'i for two bouts with the Wahine (Sept. 10-11) and then close the non-conference slate against San Diego at home on Sept. 17.
USC was picked to finish sixth in the Pac-12 Preseason Coaches Poll and opens league play with four straight road matches starting with a midweek grudge match against crosstown rival UCLA (Sept. 22). The Trojans get Utah and Colorado (Oct. 8, 10) for their first Pac-12 home contests and host defending conference champion Washington and WSU to open the back half of the Pac-12 schedule (Oct. 29, 31).
The Women of Troy endure a midseason four-match road trip that will take them from Colorado (Nov. 5) through Salt Lake City (Nov. 7) and then to Eugene and Corvallis (Nov. 12, 14), but will end the season with four straight matches at Galen Center against Arizona and ASU (Nov. 19, 21) before Thanksgiving week matchups with Stanford (Nov. 24) and UCLA (Nov. 26).
For more information on the USC women's volleyball team and a complete schedule and results, please visit USCTrojans.com/WVB. Fans of the Women of Troy can follow @USCWomensVolley on Twitter and Instagram.