The USC men’s volleyball team will travel down South to take on the UC San Diego Tritons Wednesday. The Trojans have had a tough year so far, bearing a 4-13 overall record and currently riding a daunting six-game losing streak. With a 0-6 record on the road, the Men of Troy will look to break their losing streak against UCSD.
Last Thursday, the Trojans faced a tough No. 15 UC Santa Barbara team at home and lost in a four-set match. Junior outside hitters Gianluca Grasso and Jack Wyett continued to lead the offense as they have been all season — both boasted 14 kills. Grasso also showed a dominating defensive effort with 11 digs, the most on the team. Freshman middle blocker Sam Lewis made an impact with 11 kills and one block. Senior setter Gert Lisha ran the offense with 30 assists, and freshman setter Chris Hall contributed 18.
For UCSB, sophomore middle blocker Keenan Sanders and junior outside hitter Corey Chavers led their offense with 21 and 15 kills, respectively. Chavers also contributed seven blocks and junior middle blocker Connor Jake tallied six. Overall, the Trojans made too many errors. While they had more assists, digs, aces and kills, their 20 errors against UCSB’s 11 was ultimately the Trojans’ downfall. The Gauchos also outshined USC defensively when it came to blocking, leading with 14 blocks versus USC’s four.
The Trojans will need to shake off this loss in their battle against the Tritons. UCSD, with an overall 8-9 record, was swept by UCSB at home last Friday, and the Tritons are coming off a home 0-3 loss against Ball State. San Diego is currently 0-2 in the Big West conference and, like USC, is looking to break a short-run losing streak and find a victory.
“It’s gonna take time but consistently practicing with an aggressive mindset and making sure that everyone’s doing their job to know that we can build trust,” junior middle blocker Connor Inlow said,
The Men of Troy are currently averaging 12.5 kills per set with a .274 overall hitting percentage. They average 1.1 aces per set and only about 1.6 reception errors. They have proven to be solid on serve receive and on defense, with 8.3 digs per set. USC is usually a strong blocking team but is still working on its consistency to improve their defense. Wyett is leading the team by a significant margin in total number of kills this season. He also leads in total digs, with Grasso and junior outside hitter Ryan Moss following closely behind. Hall currently has the most assists, and Grasso touts the highest number of aces with 28.
UCSD will rely on freshman outside hitter Wyatt Harrison on offense, along with senior opposite hitter Tanner Syftestad. The Tritons’ offense will be aided by senior setter Milosh Stojcic, who recorded 35 assists in his last match against Ball State.
USC will continue to set to their powerhouse outside hitters, Grasso and Wyett. Lisha will set along with Hall, and junior libero Matt Douglas will need to take over defensively. They will also rely on Lewis and Inlow to put the ball away and set up strong blocks.
“[We’ve been] learning from previous losses and continuing to grind,” Douglas said. “We just passed our mid season mark and injuries are piling up. Mentally, it’s been taxing, and we’re making a push right now for the end of the season and eventually playoffs.”