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UNIVERSITY BEAT

Trojan Women Impress

September 05, 2003|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

USC unveiled its 2002 NCAA women's volleyball championship banner Wednesday night at Lyon Center. The Trojans' display against Pepperdine, a top-10 caliber team, showed they might have to make room for another.

A 30-26, 30-18, 30-19 victory over the Waves left this possibility: USC might be better than its 31-1 national championship team of a year ago. The top-ranked Trojans, already 6-0, are deeper and more versatile than ever. They have 6-foot-5 sophomore Bibiana Candelas for an entire season to team with 6-6 All-American junior Emily Adams in the middle, allowing third-year Coach Mick Haley to move 6-3 senior Katie Olsovsky to the outside on occasion.

Reserves Alicia Robinson and Staci Venski could be starting for many other teams, and the Trojans still have do-everything senior All-American April Ross and top defensive specialist Nicole Davis.

"The saying is, 'You're only as good as your weakest player,' " Adams said. "We've got so many good players on the bench that we feel like we're playing the No. 2 team [in the country] in practice."

Perhaps their greatest strength is an environment that is decidedly not star-driven.

"I think what they realize is that it's pretty special to be part of this," said Haley, who became the second Division I coach to win national titles at two schools, having won one at Texas in 1988. Pepperdine (2-2) continued to toughen itself for another tournament run after reaching the final eight for the first time. After playing Arizona and USC, the Waves will also face strong teams Wisconsin, UC Santa Barbara, Santa Clara and UCLA.

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Penn State has seen enough of UCLA men's soccer player Matt Taylor. The senior forward scored three goals in the Bruins' season-opening 5-2 victory over the Nittany Lions last week at the Nike Soccer Town Classic in Fullerton. Last year, he recorded his first hat trick against the same Nittany Lions in a 7-1 victory in the NCAA quarterfinals.

Cal State Fullerton's Ignacio Cid was chosen the most valuable player at Soccer Town after scoring all three of the 18th-ranked Titans' goals in a 1-0 win over Ohio State and a 2-0 victory over Penn State.

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Cal State Northridge is ranked 15th, its first ranking since its move to Division I in men's soccer, after victories over San Francisco and St. Mary's.

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