The No. 6 USC men’s volleyball team has exceeded expectations so far this season with a 15-9 overall record. Even with an impressive 10-0 home record, the Trojans have still struggled on the road. This past Thursday, April 5, USC dropped three straight sets to the Pepperdine Waves (25-16, 25-23, 25-21) to result in their eighth road loss in the 2019 season.
USC looks to keep their perfect home record alive in their final match against crosstown rival UCLA on Saturday, April 6. The team will also honor seniors Gianluca Grasso, Jack Wyett, Matt Douglas and Ryan Moss as part of Saturday's Senior Night festivities.
With an impressive 18-7 record, UCLA is ranked No. 5 in the AVCA Coaches Poll and is tied for first with Pepperdine in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) conference, with USC right behind in third. The two schools' last meeting was in February, where the Bruins swept the Trojans 3-0 at Pauley Pavillion. Other notable results for UCLA this season include wins over No. 7 Lewis (3-1), No. 9 Stanford (3-2), No. 3 UCSB (3-0) and No. 4 Pepperdine (3-2).
The 15-9 Trojans are currently undefeated at home and hope to continue this streak into the postseason. While USC has knocked down opponents' challenges in the Galen Center, the team has not been so fortunate in away games, recording a 1-8 record. In MPSF conference play, USC has compiled a 6-5 record.
In the past month, the Trojans have put on an impressive display, pulling off important wins against five ranked teams. Huge upsets came at home against No. 4 Pepperdine (25-19, 25-27, 28-26, 25-20) and No. 9 Stanford (25-23, 25-20, 21-25, 22-25, 15-10), along with a stunning sweep of No. 2 Long Beach State (25-21, 25-21, 25-17).
A number of Trojans have made names for themselves as the team’s statistical leaders, such as sophomore setter Chris Hall, who has racked in 723 assists so far this season. Senior outside hitters Ryan Moss and Gianluca Grasso lead the pack in kills and service aces with 294 and 19, respectively. Libero Matt Douglas has demonstrated his defensive prowess with 143 recorded digs this season and 6-foot-10-inch middle blocker Sam Lewis has the season high in blocks with 59.
After being swept by Pepperdine on Thursday, who is tied with UCLA for first in the MPSF conference, USC’s chances of winning the conference are nonexistent. Even if the Trojans were to beat UCLA, their record would not surpass that of the Bruins and the Waves. USC has already locked in the No. 3 seed in the MPSF tournament and will host either Grand Canyon or Concordia in a quarterfinal match on April 13.
As the regular season comes to a close this weekend, USC hopes to continue their strong run into the postseason with the MPSF tournament (April 13-20) serving as another chance to prove themselves. The tournament also serves as a direct qualifier for the NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship. The 2019 NCAA Championship will be held at Long Beach State from May 2 to May 4.