The USC women’s tennis team fought valiantly in Berkeley this weekend, but could not stave off No. 7 Cal in their 5-2 defeat.USC came out strong in the match taking the doubles’ point from the Golden Bears with ease.”It was a tough loss and the toughest losses for me are the matches that are winnable at some time during the match,” USC coach Richard Gallien said. “The positive would be that Cal is a really tough team and we almost beat them without two out of our top three players, while UCLA with their full team was two points away from defeat the day before.”The nation’s top doubles team of junior Kaitlyn Christian and sophomore Sabrina Santamaria took down the Cal pairing of Lynn Chi and Anett Schutting, who rank 27th nationally, by a 8-5 margin. Overshadowing the match, though, was an injury to Santamaria that kept her out of the singles portion of the match.Cal’s top player, Zsofi Susanyi, also missed her singles’ match after injuring herself in the team’s previous match against UCLA just a day prior. The two injuries deprived the crowd of a match between the top singles players in the country as Susanyi and Santamaria share the crown of being ranked No. 1.Sophomore Zoë Scandalis also missed the match due to injury, and USC will look to get her back as soon as possible.“Sabrina coming out for us really hurt, especially because she’s playing the best tennis of anyone in the country, but you can’t cry over spilled milk you just have to be ready for the next time you get out,” Gallien said. “It looks like a sprained ankle for Sabrina, and Zoë is almost done healing with what could’ve possibly been a stress fracture, but it looked like they got it early enough.”On court two, seniors Danielle Lao and Valeria Pulido played a tough match against Fabikova and Susanyi that ended up in a 8-6 victory.Sophomores Gabriella DeSimone and sophomore Giuliana Olmos handily defeated Davis and Posylkin 8-2 in the third slot to wrap up the doubles round.Chi, who’s ranked No. 66, scored Cal’s first point of the match after defeating Olmos, who broke into the nation’s top 100 this week and now sits at No. 81. Olmos, who usually plays in the third slot, had to be shuffled around because of the injury and she went down quietly 4-6, 0-6.Ranked No. 3 in the country, Lao could not stave off a gritty performance from Schutting, who ranks No. 30 in the country, at the top of singles. Filling in for Susanyi, Schutting defeated Lao, who also was replacing Santamaria on court one, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.After Alice Duranteau came back to defeat Pulido on court six, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0, USC received a much-needed victory from freshman Ellie Yates. Starting in the fifth spot, Yates took down Kelly Chui of Cal 6-3, 7-5 to knot the match at 2-2.Now ranked 60th in the nation, DeSimone gave it all she had on court three against Cal’s Klara Fabikova, but it wasn’t enough to stave off defeat. After losing the first set 6-2, DeSimone came back strong to win the next set 6-3, but could not push through in the third and would fall 7-5.Christian was also engaged in a three-set match and, just like DeSimone, she fought hard but could not come out on top. After winning the first set 7-5, Christian dropped the next two sets 7-5, 6-1 as Cal’s Tayler Davis would seal the deal for the Golden Bears.“It would be really discouraging for us if we had our full team, but we need to get healthy over the next 10 days or so, “ Gallien said. “We can definitely play with anybody, but the losses do sting, and we just have to go on and compete again.”The Women of Troy will look to bounce back after dropping to 8-2 on the year in their next match against San Diego on March 1.
“It’s going to take some time [to get them healthy],” head coach Clay Helton said. “We’re going to believe in the kids that are out here. Hopefully, we’ll get some back here soon.” The Trojans are in Boulder this weekend to take on Colorado in their second Friday night game of the season. On defense, the Trojans will certainly feel the loss of freshman defensive lineman Drake Jackson, who leads the team in sacks, and sophomore safety Talanoa Hufanga, who is second on the team in solo tackles with 32. Although there’s been upheaval at quarterback, with Slovis, sophomore JT Daniels and redshirt junior Matt Fink all are taking significant snaps this season, Slovis looks to be “the guy” for the rest of the season, coming in at No. 7 in the country in completion percentage at 73.6%. Despite his strong showings thus far, Slovis said that being more consistent and staying disciplined are two of his focuses heading into Colorado. The running back void will be filled by freshman Kenan Christon, who lit up Arizona in his college debut Saturday with two touchdowns. Helton said the team is focused on making the most of its opportunity to earn a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game at the end of the season. “I think it’s important for us to run the football because as a quarterback, it’s hard to be on every night,” offensive coordinator Graham Harrell said. “At any position, it’s hard to be on every night. It’s just when you’re the quarterback everyone sees it a lot more … If you ever have a night where the quarterback is struggling a little bit, you can help him settle in and you can take some pressure off of him if you can run the football successfully.” “As a coach, we’re not paid to make excuses,” he said. “We’re paid to find answers, and we’ll find those answers. We’ve got a huge opportunity that stands right there for us. We can write our own story right now.” Freshman running back Kenan Christon will likely have the most carries against Colorado Friday. (Tal Volk / DailyTrojan) USC (4-3, 3-1 in the Pac-12), although undefeated at home this season, has yet to win a road game. The Trojans have won the last 13 games in their series against Colorado (3-4, 1-3 in the Pac-12), and this game is another stepping stone on their quest for a Pac-12 title. Following the injuries to USC’s three go-to backs, running backs coach Mike Jinks said the team’s mindset is “next man up.” Despite their limited resources at running back, the Trojans will still make an effort to put the ball on the ground to support freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis, who struggled to move the ball in the early going against Arizona. “From the beginning with JT going down, your starting quarterback gets hurt, you never want to see that,” he said. “Then to have your first three running backs go down, again you never want to see that happen. But you have to move up and have that ‘next man up’ mentality.” The Trojans are optimistic heading into this matchup against Colorado, despite having many crucial players sidelined. Slovis said spirits on the team are still high. Unlike USC, which just picked up a decisive win, Colorado enters this weekend coming off an ugly loss to Washington State. The Trojans have proven to be quite resilient this season, and despite losing plenty of familiar faces to injury, this game will likely follow tradition and not be the first time the program drops a game to the Buffaloes. This season has been laden with injuries for the Trojans, testing the team’s depth. This week, USC will feel the absence of tailbacks redshirt freshman Markese Stepp and junior Stephen Carr. This comes after already losing redshirt junior Vavae Malepeai to knee surgery.