Women of Troy can provide valuable lesson
“Sellin’ the Sizzle” runs Wednesdays. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or email Jonathan at email@example.com. I’ve come to understand that often a woman’s input can really help a man with the problems or issues he’s facing in his life.As evidenced by their recent trip to the Arizona desert, the Trojans have their fair share of both problems and issues and most certainly could use a little help.USC returned from Tempe, Ariz., with its collective tail between its legs, blistered and burnt by the Sun Devils in a 43-22 loss. The theme this week for the Trojans is bouncing back, as USC and its coaching staff search for the keys to rebound from last Saturday’s loss in time for this weekend’s home game against Arizona.It wouldn’t be a bad idea for the big bad Trojans to walk across Heritage Hall and ask the No. 5 USC women’s volleyball team for a little advice.Just two and a half weeks ago, the Women of Troy had a program record 5,385 fans attend their home match against UCLA, only to get swept in embarrassing fashion by their biggest rivals.It would have been easy for the team to make excuses.For one, 2010 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Falyn Fonoimoana was declared ineligible one week before the start of the season under what are still very mysterious circumstances. Fonoimoana, a 6-foot-4 outside hitter, was second on the team last season with 398 kills and was an integral part of USC’s run to the Final Four a year ago.Sophomore starting middle blocker Alexis Olgard had an offseason knee injury and has yet to play this season. Olgard made the All-Pac-10 Freshman Team last year and was second on the squad with 93 blocks.The Women of Troy had also played their first six matches of the year in the Eastern time zone, making back-to-back weekend trips to Pennsylvania and Florida for tournaments. USC returned to Southern California only to face Cal State Northridge in a gym with a broken air conditioner on a day upwards of 100 degrees.The players could have blamed any one of those things for the loss to UCLA and lamented their 5-3 start to what was supposed to have been a landmark season.Instead, they responded with four straight sweeps of Pac-12 opponents, including knocking off No. 4 Washington on the road and No. 1 Cal and No. 2 Stanford at home.Yes, the Trojan football team certainly could learn a thing or two from them.But this story really isn’t about the football team or their problems.The biggest USC-related headlines will always be reserved for Trojan football but the reality is that of USC’s 19 varsity athletic teams (excluding start-ups women’s lacrosse and sand volleyball), USC coach Lane Kiffin’s crew is the only one that can’t add to the university’s all-time haul of 115 national titles this year.The women’s volleyball team is certainly at the top of the list of national championship contenders.USC returned six of their seven starters from last year’s Final Four squad and has been bolstered by the impressive early season play of sophomore outside hitters Sara Shaw and Kirby Burnham and freshman middle blocker Hannah Schraer.Of the four teams ranked above them in the polls, the Women of the Troy have already beaten Washington and Cal (now ranked No. 3 and No. 4 respectively). No. 2 UCLA has lost twice this season, leaving No. 1 Illinois as the only undefeated team left in the nation’s top-10.USC’s victory over Cal also gave the team a mental boost, as it was the Golden Bears who swept the Women of Troy out of the national semifinals last December.USC coach Mick Haley, however, still believes his team can get a lot better.Following the Women of Troy’s Saturday sweep over Stanford (their first against the Cardinal in five years), Haley told USCTrojans.com that USC committed “way too many errors, didn’t serve tough enough and didn’t pass well.”It’s not the first time Haley has been a harsh critic.“I think we’re talented,” he said after a practice before the team’s Sept. 9 game against UCLA . “We’re not going to overpower teams like the 2002 and 2003 teams did but as our younger kids get stronger, I think we have a chance to do this right. But you never know. You have to go through it.”Haley takes the wait-and-see approach because this isn’t his first rodeo. One of the most respected volleyball coaches in the country, Haley has won six national championships in his career, including two at USC in 2002 and 2003.On second thought, maybe junior quarterback Matt Barkley and his teammates should call first before heading over to the volleyball office.They might need to make an appointment because the Women of Troy are busy putting together their own special season.