USC women’s beach volleyball head coach Anna Collier says that the defending NCAA Champions have actually gotten better from last year.
“I think that we’ve improved from last year, which is impressive,” Collier said in a video interview. “We had a good season, but I’m really excited about the improvement in each individual player, and then when we put it all together we’ve improved as pairs, and then we put it all big together and I think our whole team has improved.”
She says that the team’s goal is the same as it was last year – to win a national championship.
Among the players highlighted by Collier for the 2017 season was junior Terese Cannon, who Collier says has gone from being an exhibition player at the #6 line to being a starter in the team’s top 3 lines. At 6’3″ tall, Cannon is the tallest listed player on USC’s roster this season.
Collier also spoke highly of freshman Joy Dennis, who she confirmed had broken into the lineup for the 2017 season – that’s a lineup that only graduated 2 players from its title win last year.
Collier also spoke of a new strategy for one of her pairs this season. Senior Sophie Bukovec and senior Allie Wheeler will play as a split defending team. That means both will spend time at the net, and both will spend time in the back court, which is outside of the system Collier usually runs, with one designated blocker and one designated defender.. Both have the size to play block, with Wheeler at 5’11” and Bukovec at 6’1″. Last season, Wheeler played with Nicolette Martin at the 3 line and had a 36-5 match record on the season, while team captain Bukovec played at the 2 line with Alexa Strange and went 33-9 to earn Pac-12 All-Conference First Team honors.