first_imgTal Volk | Daily TrojanOn a roll · Senior libero Taylor Whittingham serves during the Radisson Classic. The Trojans look to continue their six-match win streak Thursday.After a rocky start to the season, No. 21 women’s volleyball looks to Thursday and Friday’s games at the Pac-12 Challenge. The Women of Troy have won their past six matches, and will face Oklahoma (9-1) and Maryland (7-2) at the Pac-12 Challenge at the Galen Center. Oklahoma, on Thursday, appears to be the most difficult. The Sooners have only lost one game this season, and the Trojans will have to rely on film since they have  never seen Oklahoma play live this season. They will, however, have the chance to see Maryland play before they face them on Friday. Head coach Mick Haley said that Maryland is a more physical team that faced many injuries last year, so they may not necessarily know what to expect from them. Haley explained how the goals for the team will remain constant throughout the season — to see less errors and to compete at a higher athletic level. He noted that the team is bonding closer together. “We’re starting to get to know each other a little better,” Haley said. “We’re getting more organized, which means we can play using our system.”The Trojans have many newcomers, such as freshman Khalia Lanier, who has stepped up in her role as outside hitter. Haley said the team’s 0-3 start was not ideal, but the Trojans are dealing with it well. They are becoming tighter as a group, which helps the team learn to trust one another and work together more cohesively. Senior middle blocker Elise Ruddins echoed Haley’s statement. She explained how the beginning of season was a little rougher than they wanted, but they were still trying to work out the kinks in their team. “Practice went well after that first tournament,” Ruddins said. “Everyone is connecting better and beginning to buy into our team’s standards.”Both Haley and Ruddins said that the attitude at practice has been a tenacious one. Both returning and new players are holding each other accountable to the team’s standards and game plan. However, the Trojans could still use some work in regard to the communication between their setters and hitters. “It is important for the hitters to get into groove with the setter on court to finish stronger,” Ruddins said. Overall, Haley believes many members of the team are coming together. The first he mentioned were his middle blockers. In addition to Ruddins, junior Jordan Dunn has become much more competitive, while sophomore Madison Murtagh can play both middle and right side. The setters are becoming more comfortable with the offense, while senior libero Taylor Whittingham is reliable on defense. “With a combination of the setters getting better, the hitters scoring, and the middles starting to pound, we will see success,” Haley said. USC’s first match against Oklahoma on Thursday will begin at 8 p.m.last_img

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