Men’s volleyball continued a rough season with its ninth loss of the campaign Saturday. The Grand Canyon University Antelopes swept the Trojans 25-21, 25-18, 25-18 in the conference match at Galen Center.
The Trojans entered the game with a 2-8 record and 0-1 mark in MPSF. Stacked with underclassmen, this young team needs to rebuild and create an identity together.
The energy and effort of both teams was consistently high throughout the three sets, but errors ultimately cost the Trojans the game. The Lopes’ .415 hitting percentage topped the Trojans’ .267 percentage. In addition, the Lopes made eight service errors compared to the Trojans’ 14.
Overall, the Lopes dominated the match on both sides of the ball, outpacing the Trojans in every major statistical category: GCU won 42-38 in kills, 25-21 in digs and 5-0 in blocks.
As a steady force and key player, sophomore starting outside hitter Brandon Browning led the Trojans with eight kills and six digs. Meanwhile, middle blocker Vecas Lewin made his senior presence felt on the court, putting down seven kills with a .455 hitting percentage. Keeping the game alive, junior starting libero Cole Paxson contributed 10 digs to the match.
The Antelopes dominated the court with big performances. Playing decisive roles, redshirt sophomore opposite hitter Hugo Fischer had 17 kills and two blocks, and sophomore outside hitter Christian Janke reached his season high of 15 kills. Completing their performance with a strong defense, senior middle blocker Caleb Blazer contributed three blocks to challenge the Trojan offense, redshirt freshman Camden Gianni had five kills and six digs and junior libero Avery Enriques put up six digs.
The Trojans kept it close to start the match, going point for point with the Lopes. Both teams came out swinging, putting in a substantial amount of effort to fight for every point.
Notably, USC redshirt junior starting setter Matt Faraimo dove over the reffing table and into the seats in an attempt to save a ball that ricocheted off his teammate’s hands. Shortly after, the Lopes gained momentum over the Trojans and went on a four-point run to secure a 12-8 lead. Although the Trojans kept pushing points, the Lopes capitalized on Trojan errors to win the first set.
Again in the second set, the teams opened trading points. The Trojans utilized a four-point run to take a 10-7 lead. The Lopes regrouped during a timeout and returned with a seven-point run to take the lead. The Trojans battled to stay in the game, but could not close the gap.
Opening the third set with a clean kill up and over the block to fuel the team’s energy, redshirt sophomore outside hitter Clay Dickinson’s six kills came at crucial points.
With a 2-0 set lead over the Trojans, the Lopes continued their momentum to go on an early six-point run and build a comfortable 9-3 lead that the Trojans would not overcome. Fighting to change the pace, USC sophomore setter Jameson McKibbin challenged the Lopes with two consecutive one-handed dumps. The Trojans surrendered the third and final set to the Lopes.
The loss dropped the Trojans record to 2-9 overall and 0-2 in the conference. The Trojans head on the road for the next two weeks, facing off with four highly-ranked conference teams in No. 8 Pepperdine, No. 7 UCLA, No. 13 Stanford and No. 2 BYU.