Trojans head to Hawai’i for doubleheader
While it is hard to overlook the USC menâs volleyball teamâs trip to the MPSF championship match just a year ago, the clubâs mounting losses and inability to sustain consistent periods of execution have put an even greater premium on winning, and winning now.
The Trojans will look to right the ship this weekend in Honolulu, where they will face off against Hawaiâi on Friday and Sunday to conclude their four-game road trip. After christening the trip with a decisive 3-1 victory over Pacific, the Trojans fell 3-2 to Stanford on Sunday, dropping to 4-9 on the season.
The triumph against Pacific was a welcome sight for USC head coach Bill Ferguson, who saw his team drop three consecutive critical matches during a four-game homestand at the Galen Center.
âI thought we took care of the easy plays a lot better,â Ferguson said. âWe focused the entire week on outplaying and out-competing the opponent. We talked to them about playing at an increased intensity, and we felt like we withstood their challenge, so winning was huge for us.â
Not surprisingly, the Trojans were once again led by their workhorses, as redshirt junior opposite Tanner Jansen recorded 21 kills while sophomore middle blocker Robert Feathers collected 16 kills. The momentum failed to lift the team against the Cardinal, however, as the Trojans recorded 20 service errors en route to the five-set defeat.
âWeâre starting to rack up some more aces, which is good, but we still have a high number of errors,â Ferguson said. âWeâve had to become more of a high-risk, high-reward team. Our team has to get used to playing in that manner. We dug ourselves a hole early, but I thought we did a great job of coming back in the fourth set and staying involved in the match.â
The teamâs subpar performance throughout the season is glaring in comparison to the success of the 2012 squad, and it remains to be seen whether Fergusonâs optimism and emphasis on greater team effort will come as motivational tools for his players as they enter the second half of their schedule. Still, it is important to note that while last yearâs team cruised to a 24-6 record and an appearance in the championship game, they were able to do so on the strength of 2012 national player of the year Tony Ciarelli and All-American middle blocker Steven Shandrick , both of whom are gone.
âI think our guys understand the importance of our opponents and the importance of the season,â Ferguson said. âThey know what these games mean to us and they are aware of the task at hand, so weâll be ready to go.â
Despite the teamâs struggles this season, a trip to Hawaiâi not only represents a homecoming for multiple players on the squad, but also provides a better playing atmosphere, in Fergusonâs eyes.
â(Hawaiâi) is probably the best volleyball environment in the country, and itâs something our guys look forward to because the fans are knowledgeable and thereâs a lot of love for us over there,â Ferguson said. âItâs a great place to play volleyball, but we know that the Warriors serve well and pass well, so we need to focus on excelling in those aspects because they will direct the show.â
Following the doubleheader, the Trojans come back home for three games, starting with a match against 2012 champion UC Irvine next Friday.