ILOILO City – Police caught three personsengaging in an illegal cockfight in Barangay Lopez Jaena Norte, La Pazdistrict. They were identified as Jun Magno, KimMagno and Medy Hilado of Barangay Tabuc Suba, La Paz district. The suspects were detained in the La Pazpolice station’s custodial facility, facing charges./PN Police confiscated six game fowls fromthem on Dec. 29. However, their alleged cohorts EugeneLanado and a certain “Edison” managed to flee.
The No. 2 USC women’s volleyball team’s 2010 title aspirations ended in straight sets in a national semifinal matchup against No.7-seeded California in mid-December in Kansas City.Out of this world · Senior outside hitter Alex Jupiter, a two-time All-American, has the opportunity to break several USC records this season, including kills, service aces and points. – Daily Trojan file photoBut after receiving five first-place votes in the annual preseason top-25 poll, the Women of Troy remain optimistic that they can reverse those fortunes in 2011.“We know we have a lot of work to do,” USC coach Mick Haley said. “But once you get to the Final Four, you get hungry and you want to go back. Once the kids realize how much fun it is, they work their tails off to get back.”Despite a fair share of optimism heading into a season, which begins Friday against No. 12 Minnesota in the first game of the Rockvale Outlets/AVCA Showcase in University Park, Penn., Haley has downplayed the team’s lofty preseason rankings and hype that surrounds the program. The Women of Troy were the consensus pick to win the Pac-12 title.“In the early season rankings, they always put teams that are going to play each other higher so it hypes the game [for] attendance,” Haley said. “But I think once we get comfortable, we should be a lot better than we were last year.”The reasons for high expectations are evident.USC returns three senior All-Americans in outside hitter Alex Jupiter, setter Kendall Bateman and middle blocker Lauren Williams, all of whom rank among some of the program’s best in recent memory.In 2010, Jupiter finished with 532 kills, which led the team, and after 1,567 assists last season, Bateman could break the school’s career mark for assists by the year’s end.But the loss of sophomore outside hitter Falyn Fonoimoana, who earned Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors last season, could be particularly costly after the Hermosa Beach, Calif., native was declared ineligible for the season last week.“We exhausted all of our resources in order to help Falyn retain her eligibility,” Haley said in a statement. “We have very high expectations of our student-athletes, on and off the court, here at USC.”No further explanation was issued.Others, such as sophomore middle blocker Alexis Olgard, will also miss the first few weeks of the season after undergoing knee surgery in the spring.For the Women of Troy, however, the team has plenty of depth to recover for the recent losses.Sophomore Kirby Burnham, who fought with Fonoimoana for a starting job last season, will be slotted back into the starting lineup.“I remember last year when Kirby and Falyn were competing for the same spot, and [Kirby] has made some great improvements [since then],” Jupiter said. “She’s just so aggressive and physical … just another great outside hitter.”Freshman middle blocker Hannah Schraer, part of Haley’s top-10 recruiting class this year, is expected to start until Olgard returns.The squad will have to hope its makeshift lineup meshes quickly, as its early schedule is brutal.Its first two matches are against the No. 12 Golden Gophers and No. 1 Penn State on Saturday in a true road game.The Nittany Lions are four-time defending champions.“We haven’t played Penn State since my class has been here, so we’re really excited to get to challenge ourselves and play at that level,” Jupiter said. “It’s what we need to get in our groove for the season.”The Women of Troy don’t just have a tough opening weekend; their first seven games are on the road, and six of their first 12 opponents are in the top 12 of the Division I rankings.They won’t play at home at the Galen Center until their conference opener versus UCLA on Sept. 9.But the coaching staff and players alike welcome the stiff competition.“It is a very hard start, but as long as we keep up with our defense and our passing, and keep trying as a team, we’ll be able to compete with anyone,” Jupiter said.