Trojans return home after their first loss
The Trojans (6-1, 6-1) were close to beginning their season 7-0 for the first time since 1991, but then-No. 11 Pepperdine managed to eke out a victory in five sets on Friday.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs cool,‚ÄĚ Troy said. ‚ÄúBut there are a lot of greats that came before the rally scoring era. It‚Äôs definitely cool to pass that mark, but I have to take it for what it is.‚ÄĚ
The Trojans were without senior middle blocker Austin Zahn, who sprained his ankle in practice during the week.
He is expected to be available for tonight‚Äôs match against No. 4 Stanford.
USC hit a season-low .292 for the match against Pepperdine, while the Waves hit .550 and .706 in the closing sets respectively.
‚ÄúThey passed it well and they could run the attack out of the middle,‚ÄĚ said USC coach Bill Ferguson. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs going to be tough if they can do that.‚ÄĚ
The Trojans have had three full days to regroup after the loss.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre just moving forward and continuing to improve,‚ÄĚ Ferguson said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre working on attacking, which was not as good as usual against Pepperdine.‚ÄĚ
The Cardinal (9-3, 6-3) were also victims of the disparity in the conference.
They were upset at the hands of unranked UC San Diego at home on Friday in a five-set match as well.
Stanford is also the defending NCAA champion.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a big rivalry here, and that‚Äôs not just because of the level of play,‚ÄĚ said senior setter Riley McKibbin. ‚ÄúMany of us ‚ÄĒ the Hawaiian guys especially ‚ÄĒ have known the Stanford guys since we were little.‚ÄĚ
The Cardinal rely on tough defense and precise passing and are ranked second in the conference after the Trojans in digs per set.
‚ÄúWe have to be patient attacking them,‚ÄĚ Ferguson said. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôll dig a lot of our hits.‚ÄĚ
Although the Trojans were handed their first loss of the season, they have not let it stand in the way of the methodical process they came into the season with.
‚ÄúWe can‚Äôt do anything outside of ourselves,‚ÄĚ McKibbin said. ‚ÄúThe Pepperdine loss was just one mishap. We need to focus on how we usually play, because then we‚Äôll be successful.‚ÄĚ