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USC uses teamwork to take national title

©Associated Press
December 22, 2002

NEW ORLEANS -- It's taken two years for voleyball coach Mick Haley to lead Southern California to a national championship.

Katie Olsovsky had 16 kills as top-seeded USC defeated Stanford 3-1 (30-27, 23-30, 30-24, 30-26) Saturday in the third meeting between the schools this season. It is USC's second title since winning the inaugural NCAA championship in 1981.

Haley, who won two national titles at Texas in 17 seasons and coached the 2000 U.S. volleyball team at the Sydney Olympics, has helped turn around the USC program since he officially took over in 2001.

"What a wonderful effort by this whole team," Haley said. "This is truly a team."

Olsovsky led a balanced attack as Keao Burdine and April Ross each had 15 kills and Emily Adams had 12 for USC. Burdine had a match-high 15 digs.

"Everybody contributed and we played so well," Olsovsky said.

Oganna Nnamani led defending champion Stanford (33-5) with 19 kills. Logan Tom had 16 and Sara McGee added 11.

"They're a great team with great defenders," Tom said. "I was up and down. Sometimes I made plays, but there were some stretches when I didn't."

The teams met twice during the Pac-10 season, with each winning a five-game match on the other's court. It was the fifth all Pac-10 final since 1992.

USC (31-1) took control of the match midway through the third game on an 8-2 run to take an 18-9 lead. The Cardinal closed the gap to 24-21, but USC won three straight points to keep control. After a Stanford point, USC scored the last two.

In the fourth game, USC scored the first four points and took a 9-3 lead.

Stanford got to 23-22, but USC scored three straight points. After two kills by Tom, USC scored four of the final six points, ending it on Olsovsky's kill.

"They are very difficult to defend," Stanford coach John Dunning said. "They have so much depth, and their system really works for the talent they have."

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