Trojans women’s volleyball discontinues dancing drought

USC earned a No. 6 seed after its first 20-win season since 2018.

USC women's volleyball players celebrate after a point.

Prior to 2020, USC women’s volleyball had failed to make the NCAA Tournament just three times — never consecutively — since the NCAA began sponsoring the sport in 1981.

Senior opposite hitter Emilia Weske was a freshman on the last Trojan squad to make the field of 64 in 2019, and after enduring the first multi-season tournament drought in school history, she’s the only one left as USC makes its return.

That rejuvenation has been buoyed by the nation’s No. 1 and No. 2 ranked freshman and transfer classes, respectively. It’s a group that includes Texas transfer senior outside hitter Skylar Fields — the Pac-12 leader in kills per set — along with top-ranked recruits outside hitter Jordan Wilson and libero Gala Trubint — two-time conference Defensive Player of the Week.

USC was announced as the No. 6 seed in the Texas Quadrant of the 2022 NCAA Tournament Sunday. The Trojans will travel to Columbus, Ohio for an opening-round matchup with High Point on Friday, December 2 at 2 p.m.

The Panthers finished the season 23-9, claiming the Big South Tournament title to lock up an automatic bid in the tournament. They won all but a pair of their conference contests this season, rounding out the year at No. 52 in the RPI — a higher mark than half of the Pac-12.

Facing five tournament teams and three top-10 squads in non-conference play, High Point has faced its fair share of challenging opposition. The Panthers took on two ranked teams on the road: No. 1 Texas and No. 6 Wisconsin.

Awaiting USC in the second round on December 3, should they advance, is the winner of No. 3 seed Ohio State and Tennessee State. The Buckeyes finished fourth in the Big Ten, racking up eight ranked wins — including true road wins over No. 3 Louisville, No. 5 Georgia Tech, No. 10 Minnesota and No. 11 Penn State.

USC had mixed results against the stronger portion of its schedule, going just 5-9 against tournament opposition. Facing ranked opposition, the Trojans managed just a single victory — a 3-1 win over Oregon on October 14.