USC men’s volleyball falls to UCLA in home opener

The Trojans lost in four sets to the Bruins Thursday night.

After defeating UCLA 3-1 on Saturday in its season opener, USC men’s volleyball looked for a second straight win over the Bruins Thursday night. However, the Trojans’ crosstown rivals handed them a defeat after four close sets.

This loss leaves USC at 1-1 overall going into Saturday’s third match against UCLA.

Redshirt junior outside hitter Billy Fauntleroy led the Trojans with 14 kills and redshirt senior middle blocker Vecas Lewin was close behind with nine. Sophomore middle blocker Lucas Frassrand had five blocks and senior setter Chris Hall led with 34 assists.

The Bruins took the first set 25-23, with a few service errors on both sides. The end of the set was close, but UCLA took the game point with a cross-court kill that the Trojans could not dig.

USC fell further behind in the second set, falling 25-20.

The third set brought a sign of life for the Trojans. They looked for redemption and fought a tough-won battle. Three of the first five points for the Trojans came from Bruin service errors, which were a recurring theme of the game. The tides seemed to turn at 13-11 when junior outside hitter Brandon Browning made it through a triple block to notch a kill that would cause UCLA to call a timeout.

Frassrand later made the game-winning kill to end the hard-fought set at 29-27.

After the third set, a comeback seemed to be within the Trojans’ reach and an eventual blocked UCLA kill attempt by Lewin put the Trojans up 15-12. But USC fell behind as the Bruins snapped back, ultimately taking the set 25-21 to finish the match.

UCLA bested USC in nearly every major stat but also led in service errors 27-19. UCLA hit .283% while USC hit .173%. UCLA had 13 blocks and 52 kills, compared to USC’s 11 blocks and 43 kills. The Bruins were led by outside hitters sophomore Cole Ketrzynski and senior Austin Matautia with 18 and 12 kills, respectively.

The Bruins and Trojans are now each 1-1 on this season’s series. The rivals will meet again at the Galen Center Saturday at 5 p.m. for the final of three regular season matchups this year.