After two wins last weekend, including one against Washington, the team that handed USC its first loss of the season, the USC women’s volleyball team is feeling pretty confident.However, the No. 7 Women of Troy do not have much time to celebrate their recent victories, as they have to prepare for two very difficult upcoming battles, both on the road.Staying focused · Junior setter Kendall Bateman and the Women of Troy will face the top of the Pac-10 in Cal and Stanford this weekend. – Tim Tran | Daily Trojan USC will face No. 2 California tonight at 7 p.m. before playing No. 3 Stanford on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Cardinal beat USC in the first matchup between the teams earlier in the season, while the Women of Troy handed the California Golden Bears their only loss of the season.“We’ve got a win over Cal and Cal wants to rectify that,” said USC coach Mick Haley. “They’re going to throw everything at us.”Despite the fact that USC has already beaten Cal, the Women of Troy are far from overconfident.“We’ll be on the road at their place — they’ll have the advantages. We’ll see if we can handle the noise,“ Haley said. “Certainly expect a heck of a fight against Cal.”Although Cal is hoping for revenge against the Women of Troy, USC is hoping to earn some redemption points of its own.“The last time we played Stanford here, we felt like we should have done better against them,” Haley said. “I think we’ve got something to prove.”The Pac-10 is full of competition this season, with seven of the teams currently ranked in the top-25. With such a tight race, Haley cannot deny how significant it would be if the Women of Troy went 2-0 this weekend.“Obviously if you could steal two wins on the road against the second- and third-place teams in the country, we would have a chance to win the conference,” Haley said.One of the main traits of this year’s team has been its youth, which could sometimes be seen as a disadvantage, especially when every night of competition is intense. USC currently posts six freshmen on its roster, though Haley said his team is not nearly as “youthful” as it was just a few weeks ago.“I think freshmen are not freshmen too much anymore. They pretty much have settled in,” Haley said. “They’re pretty comfortable, and now they’re starting to compete really well.”Although there are facets of the game the Women of Troy still need to improve in — passing, blocking and defense in particular — Haley seemed pretty pleased with his team’s performance during practice this past week.“They were alert. They were physical. Their intensity was good, so I think they’re excited about playing this weekend,” Haley said.Although the anticipation and hype surrounding this weekend’s matches are high, Haley said he wants to make sure his team remains focused and doesn’t look too far ahead.“We have to take them one at a time and see what happens, and if we’re fortunate to come out with two wins, then we’ll start talking about playing for the conference championship,” Haley said.
EAGLE GROVE — After nearly three years of planning and construction, an opening date is now set for the $240-million Prestage Farms pork processing plant in Wright County.Ron Prestage is CEO of the North Carolina-based company which is opening its newest facility near Eagle Grove.“It’s been a long journey to try to get to this point and now we’re just doing some final phases and a lot of cleaning and testing and organizing,” Prestage says. “We’re looking forward to getting it completed.”After many months of construction work on the large facility, the last duties before opening are being checked off the list.“Most of what’s being done is testing all the IT stuff, the computers and trying to coordinate the way all the equipment works and checking out motors,” Prestage says. “You have to do a phenomenal amount of cleaning before you do final installation of conveyor belts, for example.” Otherwise, he says, grit and dust could cause problems down the line.Progress is far enough along that a date is being set to open the facility.“We’re pretty comfortable right now that unless we get any unexpected surprises or whatever, that we’ll be ready to start the actual operations in the plant probably the first week of March,” Prestage says.A tentative start date is set for March 4th, though Prestage says they may only process one or two loads of hogs that day as everyone and everything is tested out.“March 2nd is when we’re planning on having a kind of open house and inviting local people, local politicians,” Prestage says, “the governor had expressed an interest in coming by, letting everybody get a tour all the way through the facility.”When the plant opens in March, there will be at least 300 to 400 workers employed at the facility. Its total workforce is expected to reach 922 by late this spring. The 922 workers is for the first shift only. It may be a year or two before it’s determined whether a second shift will be added.Eventually, the plant will slaughter 10,000 hogs per day, with half of those hogs coming from Prestage’s own barns. The other half will come from independent producers.