Not much was going right for 2-11 USC this season entering Thursday night’s matchup with No. 12 Stanford. The Trojans were able to turn things around with a decisive 3-1 victory over the Cardinal at Maples Pavilion.
The win brought the Trojans to a 3-11 overall record (1-4 MPSF).
Redshirt sophomore outside/opposite hitter Billy Fauntleroy stepped up to the challenge against Stanford’s stout defense, putting up a career-high 23 kills and two aces while hitting .500.
Fauntleroy was backed by sophomore setter Jameson McKibbin, who had a whopping 56 assists and three blocks. Freshman outside hitter Adam Flood also contributed a promising performance with 11 kills and three blocks off 27 swings.
Stanford junior opposite hitter Jaylen Jasper and freshman outside hitter Will Rottman — the Cardinal’s leaders in kills this season — put up a combined 31 kills and six blocks against the Trojans.
Although USC conceded 25 errors on the night and allowed big performances from Jasper and Rottman, the Trojans’ eight aces helped keep them in command.
An intense opening set saw the Trojans rally by going on a five-point streak and scoring off three aces to eventually win the set. In USC’s second set, the team faced a seven-point deficit and never regained the lead.
The Trojans’ chemistry began to flow by the third set, as they began to pull off fast-paced setups while finishing with strong deliveries. USC hit .419 and put up another three aces in the set, which helped solidify the team’s momentum heading into the fourth set.
USC held the lead over the Cardinal for much of the fourth set, and the match ended with a strong kill from junior middle blocker Sam Lewis.
Despite the solid win, the Trojans must continue to key in on consistency, as the team followed up each of its past two wins with a loss.
Offensively, the Trojans have averaged 12.4 kills, 11.4 assists and 1.3 aces on 53 sets played this season. The team has focused well on a defensive standpoint as they are able to get 7.7 digs per set.
The Trojans will see Stanford down the road on March 28.
USC is set to face off against BYU this Saturday in their fourth straight MPSF match. The Cougars are currently the only undefeated squad in the MPSF conference.