The USC men’s volleyball team is riding high this season after defeating UC Irvine to improve to 3-0 on the season. The Trojans are currently ranked No. 5 in the nation, and are set to move up in the rankings after their grueling 5-set victory over the No. 8 Anteaters, who won the national championship the last two years in a row.
The Trojans will aim to remain undefeated tonight when they host the No. 3 Pepperdine Waves at the Galen Center. The Waves (2-0) are coming off two impressive wins against UC Irvine and UC San Diego, and are looking to avenge their loss to the Trojans from last season.
In last year’s match, the underdog Trojans, then ranked No. 15 nationally, upset the third-ranked Waves in four sets. Then-sophomore middle blocker Robert Feathers led the way with 13 blocks, while then-sophomore outside hitter Cristian Rivera added 11. Both are looking to repeat their success against the Waves tonight, entering the match averaging two kills per set each.
Meanwhile, outside hitter Josh Taylor leads the Waves with 5.43 kills per set. Opposite/middle blocker Parker Kalmbach is the next-biggest contributor, with 4.29 kills per set.
Last August, Taylor competed with Team USA in the men’s Pan American Cup in Mexico City, where the U.S. team fell in the first round. USC’s junior setter Micah Christenson has also played at the national level, representing Team USA in the 2013 NORCECA Men’s Continental Championship in Langley, B.C., Canada. Christenson contributed 18 sets and two blocks in the championship match, in which Team USA defeated Canada.
With such competitive players on both teams, the match is sure to be enticing.
“Pepperdine is very much on the rise,” Christenson said. “We’re excited to get going against someone other than each other.”
Redshirt junior serving specialist Paul Yoder asserted that the team has prepared extensively to play against highly ranked teams such as the Anteaters and the Waves.
“We’ve been coming together really well as a team this year and that’s been a big focus of ours,” Yoder said. “[It’s] really just getting into the gym everyday and it’s not always about being perfect but it’s about growing each and every step of the way.”
The match will be held at the Galen Center at 7 p.m. It will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks.