Sophomore setter Jenna Adams returns a ball for the Trojans in a game against Utah at the Galen Center. Photo by Tucker Judkins | Daily TrojanThe No. 14 women’s volleyball team hits the road for two of its final three regular-season road matchups at No. 4 Stanford and Cal on Wednesday and Friday. USC (20-7, 12-4 Pac-12) is coming off a five-match win streak, tying its longest of the season. The first time the Trojans met the Golden Bears (13-14, 4-12 Pac-12), USC won in four sets. Two days later, when they played the Cardinal (22-3, 15-1 Pac-12), Stanford won in four sets. For Stanford, a win against the Trojans would mean that Stanford would clinch its first Pac-12 title since 2014. Sitting at 12-4, USC has a one match hold over Washington for second place. If the Trojans beat the Cardinal, USC could have a chance to tie for the title if it wins out its season. To give the Cardinal their second conference loss of the season, USC will need to rely upon sophomore outside hitter Khalia Lanier. This past week, Lanier was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week and the AVCA National Player of the Week. It’s Lanier’s third conference award and her first AVCA National award, and USC’s 10th in program history. Lanier picked up 38 kills while hitting .319 and averaging 4.22 kills per set in the team’s four-set win over then-ranked No. 15 Utah and five-set win over then-ranked No. 25 Colorado. Other than Lanier, USC continues to depend on senior opposite Brittany Abercrombie. The senior put up 27 kills this past weekend. Freshman outside hitter Brooke Botkin put up 24 kills while hitting .256. Senior opposite Niki Withers put up 21 kills while hitting .304. The team’s balanced attack helped to push the Trojans over the Utes and Buffaloes this past weekend. To try and top the Cardinal, they’ll need a continued presence from the four pin-hitters. For the Cardinal, USC will need to limit sophomore outside hitter Kathryn Plummer. Against the Washington schools, Plummer put up 48 kills while hitting .329. She is the Cardinal’s go-to offensive weapon. While it could be tough to limit Plummer, USC could focus on making an impact at the net against the rest of Stanford’s hitters, similar to what the Huskies did in their four-set win over the Cardinal — their first of the season — just a week ago. To top the Golden Bears, the Trojans will need to shut down senior outside hitter Antzela Dempi. The senior hit 29 kills against the Washington schools. She also put up four service aces. The last time the two teams faced each other, Dempi put up 12 kills. With four regular-season matches to go, the Women of Troy should be able to hit their stride as they prep for the NCAA Tournament. After the matches against Stanford and Cal, USC heads out to Oregon to face the Ducks before hosting UCLA for its final regular match of the season. At Maples Pavilion on Wednesday, the Cardinal and the Troajns will celebrate Equality Night, where they will celebrate inclusion and diversity in sports. First serve will be at 7 p.m. On Friday, the Women of Troy play the Golden Bears at 6 p.m.
Source: BBC Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey says Ghana will have to be united if they are to win the Africa Cup of Nations.The 25-year-old midfielder was not even born when Ghana last won the competition in Libya 1982.Since then they have been to three finals and this year in Egypt they are in a group alongside holders Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau and Benin.“To win a tournament like Afcon sometimes quality alone is not enough,” he told BBC Sport.“We have to be able to sacrifice and go the extra mile and with that and a little bit of luck I am sure we will emerge victorious.“Unity and working for each other will be vital because we have got the quality of players already so we all have to on the same page.“This will be my second major tournament with the team so it’s hard to tell what has been wrong in the past but we need to be united.”Ghana’s most recent final appearance was in 2015 as they lost on penalties to Ivory Coast.Partey plays at the highest level with his Spanish club Atletico Madrid but there are concerns among fans that he does not replicate that form when he plays for the Black Stars.“Obviously at club level you train with the same players every day and this is Europe so the facilities and pitches are better,” he explains.“But for me it’s always the same – I like playing and everything I have earned is through this sport – so whether at club level or international level once I am on the pitch I get in to give off my best.”He has been a key man for Atletico coach Diego Simeone this season, playing 42 times in all competitions this season and helping them to finish as runners-up in La Liga behind Barcelona but ahead of local rivals Real Madrid.Atleltico also beat Real Madrid to win the European Super Cup last August.Just happy to playHis performances have reportedly attracted interest from the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal but has so far remained loyal to his mentor Simeone.“It’s hard for me to talk about transfers because the next minute it will be like ‘Thomas is trying to leave’ but for me playing football is what makes me happy,” he explained.“I keep saying I am lucky to be at this level now because I know people who play harder and worker harder than me but are nowhere close to being here.“I don’t know what the future holds for me but as long as I play and they are happy with me here then there is no need flirting with others.“So the only thing that would make me unhappy will be not playing. I think most footballers can understand that not playing is the greatest torture any professional footballer can go through.”Thomas also paid tribute to his upbringing in Ghana.“I will tell you, it’s not about me feeling comfortable at Atletico it’s just the values instilled in me by my parents,” he continued.“The club has been like a second home to me and everything I am now it’s partly because they took a chance on me.“Don’t get me wrong I have had to earn it but there are a lot people on the streets of Accra working hard every day hoping for a club to take a chance on them like they did here for me so I will never be ungrateful and force a move just because of money or fame.“I know how our work is, today you are here and tomorrow you are gone but I feel naturally when it’s time to move I wouldn’t have to force it because it will be so clear that my time here is up.”