The men’s volleyball team has officially signed six more players to the Fall 2017 roster. The new additions bring the team’s total incoming players to 10, which will deepen next year’s bench in the wake of several seniors’ graduations.
The previous four players that signed in November all hail from California. They include middle blockers Sam Lewis and Mitch Haly, who stand at 6-foot-10 and 6-foot-7, respectively, along with 5-foot-10 libero Cole Paxson and 6-foot-6 outside hitter Noah Franklin. These players will bring height, with Lewis being an inch taller than the tallest player on last season’s roster, and their diversity of positions with help fill the team after graduating five seniors.
At the end of the 2017 season, the team had doubled last year’s win total and made it back to the Pac-12 Tournament in head coach Jeff Nygaard’s second season. However, the team will lose its three graduating starters. With this new set of players, USC looks to keep its momentum after a season filled with ups and downs.
Of the new six signed, four are outside hitters, one is a setter and one is a middle blocker.
The outside hitters include, 6-foot-7 Clay Dickinson, 6-foot-6 Kyle Gear, 6-foot-4 Christopher McBee and 6-foot-4 Pete Obradovich, while the setter is 6-foot-2 Chris Hall and the middle blocker is 6-foot-7 Billy Fauntleroy. Each one will be bringing extensive experience to the team next year.
Dickinson will bring his experience from three Junior Olympics appearances, where he came away with two golds and a bronze. Gear will be coming in after two years making the 2016 Rochester Democrat & Chronicle All-Greater Rochester first team and All-Monroe County League in his home state of New York, increasing his average kills from 13 to 18 per match. McBee will be coming in with international experience under his belt after being on the USA Volleyball Boys Youth National Team, which won a silver medal in Cuba at the 2016 NORCECA U19 Continental Championships. He is expected to be a young leader for the team after finding his footing on a national and international stage early in his career.
Finally, Obradovich will bring his experience from both the court and sand along with his family’s USC legacy, as his father was part of USC’s first NCAA Championship volleyball team and their Rose Bowl Championship team in 1977. His family tradition is part of what brings him back to USC, and the team hopes he will follow in his father’s shoes. Whoever takes the starting spot left by senior Lucas Yoder will have big shoes to fill, but it looks like they are ready for it.
Both Fauntleroy and Hall are coming in with extensive volleyball knowledge. Fauntleroy comes from a volleyball family — one sister who played for Colgate, and one is playing for Virginia and his twin sister who will play at George Washington, gaining knowledge from both playing and being around volleyball his whole life.
Hall was the starting setter on the same team as McBee and has a background in beach volleyball, giving him international and beach experience that adds to his court game. That experience will continue to help the Trojans fill in their bench as they look forward to the fall season.
Overall, the incoming players already have extensive experience before they will step foot onto the court in Galen Center. Their experience along with that of the rest of the team from the 2017 season might just continue with the forward momentum that they left off with at the end of the season and help them push towards to goal of being champions. The Trojans stumbled midseason this year, but pulled out a berth to the MPSF tourney. Next season, their sights will be set even higher with such experience.