Trojans gear up for Bay Area back-to-back
Posted February 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm in Volleyball
This weekend the USC menâs volleyball team will take its talents to the Bay Area for its most challenging road trip of the season. The Trojans (7-4, 5-4) will be in Stockton Friday night to play No. 11 Pacific, and will turn around and head about 80 miles south to Palo Alto on Saturday to take on one of their toughest challenges of the season against top-ranked Stanford.
The Trojans have rebounded from their sweep against UCLA in dominating fashion, sweeping both Pepperdine and Hope International during a four-game home stand.
Though Stanford is ranked as the top team in the nation, the Trojans have defeated the Cardinal two of the past three years and are not daunted by the task.
âTheyâve been a pretty similar team for the last two to three years. Weâve gone back and forth with them so this year is going to be really good. Itâs going to be a close gameâ senior outside hitter and co-captain Tony Ciarelli said.
That is not to say a victory in Palo Alto is assured. âWe need to be solid on the service line and limit our errors. Weâve worked a lot on blocking this week in practice in order to take away the good angles and good shots for the Cardinalâ senior middle blocker and co-captain Steven Shandrick said.
Additionally, this weekend will feature two of the most intense home crowds the Trojans will face all season. So while the intensity of both matches will be at a high level, the team is excited to play in such an atmosphere, especially at Stanford.
âYou have to steal the energy from the crowd and embrace it,â Ciarelli said.
Despite their No. 6 national ranking, the team has been unimpressive in away games this season, going only 2-3, with one of those victories coming against a Division II squad in California Baptist. Despite losing a close five-set match to No. 3 BYU in Provo, Utah, the results have simply not being favorable for the Trojans away from the Galen Center.
Despite the attention being paid to Saturday eveningâs matchup, the team is not looking past their Friday night foe in Pacific.
Shandrick was resolute about not taking the Tigers likely.
âWe never take it easy,” Shandrick said. “Every team loves playing and beating USC and we donât want that to happen.â