After a convincing win against Grand Canyon University at Galen Center on Feb. 7, the USC men’s volleyball team suffered two road losses against Stanford on Thursday and Brigham Young University on Saturday.
The Trojans fell to the Cardinal 3-2 in a close match. USC got off to a slow start, losing the first set 25-15. However, the Trojans did not fold and found a way to bounce back in a nail-biter of a second set, winning 28-26.
The third set was equally exciting, with Stanford coming out ahead in a back-and-forth battle 26-24. Then, almost as if they were enjoying spiking the stakes of the game, USC took the fourth set 25-23. In the fifth and final set, the Trojans conceded the first 4 points to Stanford and were unable to finish on a victorious note, ultimately losing 15-12.
Senior outside hitter Gianluca Grasso led USC with 19 kills, two aces and six digs. Fellow senior outside hitters and co-captains Ryan Moss and Jack Wyett added 17 and 14 kills, respectively, while sophomore setter Chris Hall contributed 11 digs and an astounding 55 assists. Redshirt junior middle blocker Tyler Resnick defended well, coming up with five blocks, while sophomore middle blocker Kyle Gear had four of his own.
Sophomore opposite Jaylen Jasper led the way for Stanford, racking up 29 kills, eight digs and three blocks. 29 kills is the most the Trojans have allowed to a single player this season. Sophomore middle blocker Kyler Presho had quite the game, contributing 11 kills and three blocks while hitting .562, and senior outside hitter Jordan Ewert contributed 10 kills along with 10 digs.
USC was less competitive in a 3-1 loss to BYU. The Trojans got off to a strong start, winning a competitive first set 28-26. The second and third sets were back and forth, but USC fell short, losing 25-22 and 25-23, respectively. After failing to capture two close sets, the Trojans looked a bit deflated in the fourth and were unable to overcome an early run from BYU, losing the final set 25-13.
Jack Wyett led USC with 16 kills along with four blocks, while Ryan Moss contributed 13 kills and seven digs, Gianluca Grasso added 13 kills and six digs and Tyler Resnick amounted another five blocks.
Sophomore outside hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez led BYU with 25 kills, as did freshman outside hitter Davide Gardini, who tallied 20 kills of his own.
“[Those were] two very tough losses against two very good programs,” Grasso said. “Coming into the matches, we felt good, we felt prepared, and fell short. So it was disappointing for the team. The team is definitely a little down right now, but definitely looking forward to this next week of practice and to [taking] on UCLA on Sunday.”
When asked about what it was like to play Stanford and BYU at their home courts, Grasso noted the difference in energy between the venues.
“At Stanford, it was an environment that we were kind of used to,” he said. “There weren’t a ton of fans at the Maples Pavilion, so we kind of had to generate our own energy in that way, but at BYU it was… just awesome to play in that environment because the gym is completely packed and it’s so loud that, to communicate with the guy next to you, you have to yell.”
After falling short of victory in two matches against two highly ranked opponents in Stanford and BYU, the Trojans are looking forward to coming home to Los Angeles to prepare to take on the Bruins on Sunday.