Athletics Roundup: Volleyball Advances to Sweet 16; Basketball and Fall Honors


Athletics Roundup: Volleyball Advances to Sweet 16; Basketball and Fall Honors

In a season in which the USD women's volleyball team finished third in the West Coast Conference and struggled in its last few regular-season matches, all it took to shake everything away was the opening weekend of NCAA Tournament play at USC's Galen Center.

Two strong postseason victories later, a four-set victory in the opener against No. 13 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (25-19, 25-18, 23-25, 25-22) on Nov. 30 and a stunning sweep of longtime playoff nemesis No. 17 USC (27-25, 25-21, 25-19) the next night, the Toreros (18-12) are now into the Round of 16 in Champaign, Ill., where on Friday at 11:30 a.m. (Pacific) they'll meet No. 6 Wisconsin. The winner of that match will play the Illinois-Marquette winner on Saturday for a spot in the Final Four.

It's the fourth time in the volleyball program's history that it has reached the Sweet 16, last doing so in 2013. Prior to that it was in 2004 and 2006.

The win against Cal Poly was big for USD, which has now beaten the Mustangs in each of their last five meetings, but two key contributions this time were that outside hitter Lauren Fuller had a huge match with 22 kills to lead USD, and that Cal Poly's top player, Big West Conference Player of the Year Torrey Van Winden, was unavailable for the match after suffering an injury in practice that put her in concussion protocol and she wasn't cleared to play.

Fuller's offensive performance was a fitting time for the senior to spark the team. Roxie Wiblin continued her solid play this season with 15 kills, including eight in the first set. Addie Picha had nine kills and six blocks.

The win, coupled with USC's first-round sweep of Samford, set up a second meeting between the Toreros and Trojans this season. USC swept USD back on Sept. 14 and the Toreros were 0-7 all-time in NCAA Tournament matches against the Trojans. That changed Dec. 1.

The Toreros survived an early run by USC in the first set. The Trojans were up 17-9, only to have USD rally to 22-all. USC got to match point, but USD rallied again for the win. USD started the second set fast with a 9-3 lead, but USC evened it at 11 before the Toreros again pulled away. USC led 7-3 in the third set, but a 7-1 USD run helped them take charge to capture the set and match.

Katie Lukes led USD with 12 kills, Wiblin had eight and Hannah Patrick chipped in seven. Picha had seven blocks and Fuller and Kelli Barry had 12 and 10 digs, respectively.

Next Matches: USD vs. Wisconsin, Friday, 11:30 a.m. (Pacific), in Champaign, Ill.; USD-Wisconsin winner vs. Illinois-Marquette winner, Saturday, 1 p.m. (Pacific), in Champaign, Ill.

Women's Basketball

The women's basketball team won both of its nonconference games last week, both at home, in the final seconds and both involved a clutch play by Myah Pace.

Pace sank two free throws with four seconds left to lift the Toreros to a 72-71 triumph Nov. 28 over San Diego State in the Jenny Craig Pavilion. The Aztecs didn't get a shot off on their last possession. Then on Dec. 1, Pace's shot with 1.6 seconds went in off the glass to give USD a 78-76 victory over Dartmouth. USD's record now is at 4-3 on the season.

In the win over SDSU, Sydney Hunter scored 16 points, Pace finished with 14, Sydney Shepard had 12 — including a key three-pointer just prior to Pace's game-clinching free throws — and Patricia Brossmann had 10 points. Madison Pollack led USD with nine rebounds while Pace had eight assists. The game was close much of the way. It was 31-29 SDSU at halftime and there were 16 ties and 12 lead changes.

The victory against Dartmouth came after struggling in the first quarter. USD was down 23-14, but a 25-point second quarter sent the game to halftime tied at 39. USD was the beneficiary of season-high scoring performances from junior Leticia Soares and Hunter. Soares led the way with 22 points and Hunter added 19 points, including 13 in the second half. Shepard scored all nine of her points on 3-pointers. Pace also finished with nine points. Hunter added eight rebounds and Brossmann had seven. Kiera Oakry had seven points, three blocks and three steals.

Next Games: USD at Long Beach State, Thursday, 7 p.m., The Pyramid, Long Beach, Calif.; USD hosts Cal State San Bernardino, Dec. 10, 5 p.m., Jenny Craig Pavilion.

Men's Basketball

Two good early-season tests for the USD men's basketball team earn it a split in games at Ole Miss on Nov. 28 and then at home against Long Beach State on Dec. 1.

The Toreros lost 93-86 to Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi and gave up the most points it has in a game all season, but USD led 39-37 at halftime and made a furious rally attempt in the second half, down by 16 points with 4:35 left in the game and got to within five before the Rebels put the game out of reach.

Isaiah Wright led the Toreros with 22 points, including four 3-pointers, Isaiah Pineiro had 21, Olin Carter III scored 19 and Alex Floresca had eight points and five rebounds in the loss.

Against Long Beach State in the Jenny Craig Pavilion, the Toreros' strong second half enabled them to top 49ers, 74-70. The teams were deadlocked at 29 at halftime, but USD shot 52 percent in the second half and Carter, who had a 11-2 run of his own in the second half, finished with 21 points in the win.

Pineiro and Tyler Williams each scored 17 points and Wright added 11. Pineiro led USD with nine rebounds and Williams made five 3-pointers at the Toreros improved their record to 6-2 heading into Wednesday's crosstown rivalry game against host San Diego State.

Next Games: USD at San Diego State, Wednesday, 7 p.m., Viejas Arena; USD hosts Cal State Northridge, Sunday, 1 p.m., Jenny Craig Pavilion.

Fall Sports Honors

All-Pioneer Football League Honors

Football: Anthony Lawrence, QB, Offensive Player of the Year, First Team (unanimous), First Team Academics; Michael Armstead, KR-WR, Special Teams Player of the Year; Michael Bandy, WR, First Team (unanimous); Daniel Cooney, OL, First Team; Jake Michaels, OL, First Team Football and Academics; Emilio Martinez, RB, Second Team; Aidan Valencia, OL, Second Team; Nick Friedel, DL, First Team; Jack Michael, DB, First Team Academics; Connor Spencer, DL, Second Team Football, First Team Academics; Kama Kamaka, LB, Second Team; Kim Mahoney, LB, Second Team; Arrion Archie, DB; Tanner Kuljian, P, Second Team; Brandon Micale, FB, Second Team Academics; Jacob Bergstrom, DL, Second Team Academics; Jake Wittwer, DL, Second Team Academics; David Tolbert, DB, Honorable Mention.

All-West Coast Conference Honors

Women's Volleyball: Addie Picha, Middle Blocker, First Team; Roxie Wiblin, Outside Hitter, Honorable Mention Volleyball and Academics; Katie Lukes, Outside Hitter, All-Freshman Team; Laura Madill, Setter, All-Freshman Team; Anna Newsome, Setter, Honorable Mention Academics; and Megan Priest, Libero, Honorable Mention Academics.

Men's Soccer: Miguel Berry, Forward, First Team Soccer, Academics; Henry Lander, Defender, Second Team; Josiah Benjamin, Defender, Honorable Mention; Matt Wiher, Goalkeeper, All-Freshman Team; Patric Krall, Defender, Honorable Mention Academics; Ross Meldrum, Midfielder, Honorable Mention Academics; Freddy Polzer, Midfielder, Honorable Mention Academics.

Women's Soccer: Milan Moses, Midfielder, First Team Soccer; Summer Mason, Forward, Second Team Soccer, Honorable Mention Academics; Devyn Kelsey, Defender, Honorable Mention Soccer; Kelly Carusa, Defender, Honorable Mention Academics; Sami Fairweather, Midfielder, Honorable Mention Academics; Maddie Marotta, Midfielder, Honorable Mention Academics; and Halle Walls, Midfielder, Honorable Mention Academics.

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