Volleyball

USC men’s volleyball impresses in dominant three-set sweep over UCI

The Trojans improved their record to 6-1 after taking round one of a two-match series against Irvine.

A photo of Brandon Browning hitting the ball during a USC volleyball game

USC men’s volleyball took on UC Irvine at Galen Center on Wednesday in a three-set sweep that saw the Trojans earn their sixth win of the season.

USC entered the match as the No. 10 ranked team in the nation looking to rebound after dropping its previous match to Ohio State in the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge. Likewise, the No. 14 Anteaters hoped to earn their first win since Jan. 14 and improve upon their 3-3 record.

In the first set, USC jumped out to an early 7-3 lead, prompting a timeout from UCI head coach David Kniffin. The rest stop wasn’t enough to reset the momentum, however, as USC dominated the remainder of the frame thanks to an impressive collective effort highlighted by senior middle blocker Liam Schroeder’s defense at the net and senior outside hitter Brandon Browning’s aces — one of which closed the set at 25-16.

The second set was a slightly different story.

Neither team was able to pull away in the early going until the Trojans went on a short run to earn a 10-7 lead, forcing Kniffin to call another momentum-stopping timeout. The break seemed to work as intended this time around, as Irvine managed to equalize the score at 10-10. The remainder of the set was a back-and-forth affair until the Trojans went on a well-timed run in the final points to win 25-20.

The third and final set mirrored the first in terms of USC’s dominance. The Trojans were highly efficient in their attacks, tallying 11 kills and only two errors in 22 attacks. The Anteaters struggled to keep up as they allowed 10 errors over the course of the set and conceded the final frame 25-17.

It was an all-around impressive win from the Trojans, who outpaced Irvine in virtually every statistical category. USC was led in kills by a transfer from UCLA, graduate outside hitter Sam Kobrine, who collected 14 in the match.

“We played well tonight,” Kobrine said. “We love winning these types of games, but our ultimate goal is obviously to win a championship, so we have to keep going.”

USC head coach Jeff Nygaard echoed the importance of keeping a balanced perspective.

“I love how our guys never get too high or too low,” Nygaard said. “I think they’ve done a good job of representing themselves and USC so far this season.”

In the short term, USC looks ahead to a rematch against UCI in Irvine on Friday night.

“They’re going to be tougher at home,” Nygaard said of the upcoming contest. “Our guys know that we can play great one day and lose the next, so they’ll be aware of that for [this next match].”

The Trojans will look to improve upon their 6-1 record in round two of USC versus UCI men’s volleyball which will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday at Crawford Court.