Trojans to face Pepperdine at home
The No. 6 USC Trojans menâs volleyball team is gearing up to play No. 10 Pepperdine at home tonight after a stunning loss at the hands of UCLA last week at the Galen Center.
âAny time you lose a match itâs no good. And losing to a rival is less good,â USC coach Bill Ferguson said. âEven though Iâve seen us go 9-4 against them so far, maybe itâs a good thing. Maybe itâs a wake-up call. Weâve had really good practices with a motivated group of guys.â
Whether it be a result of film studies, on-court drills or weights, the Trojans have showed a refreshed intensity in their practices this week.
âWeâre a young team, and it seems like we didnât realize how good our competition would be,â said senior outside hitter and co-captain Tony Ciarelli. âWe realized we need to work harder.â
Pepperdine lost key starters from last yearâs squad and is looking to re-establish itself with young, top-tier talent in a manner similar to USC.
Key to the Wavesâ attack are junior opposite Maurice Torres and freshman outside hitter Josh Taylor. They are third and eighth in kills in the conference, respectively, with 4.02 and 3.53 per set.
âTheyâre similar to us in makeup with a couple of upperclassmen and some young guys with a lot of promise,â Ferguson said. âBut theyâre much bigger physically than us. They focus on hitting, serving and blocking. We have to limit what they do offensively to be successful.â
The clash of styles plays well for the Trojans as their defense has been consistently strong as a unit. They are ranked first in the conference with 9.13 digs per set and second in the conference in opponent hitting percentageÂ (.214).
âWe have to control the ball and serve tough,â Ferguson said. âWe have to grind out our points.â
Both teams have played UC Santa Barbara this year with vastly different results. Pepperdine lost 3-1 while the Trojans swept the Gauchos.
âThose couple of losses really humbled us,â said senior middle blocker and co-captain Steven Shandrick. âBut any loss is motivation. We canât get complacent.â