USC’s No. 14 men’s volleyball team will head to Westwood to take on the No. 6 UCLA Bruins at Pauley Pavilion Sunday.
The Trojans will come into the match with an overall 7-6 record and 1-2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Conference, while the Bruins currently hold a 11-4 overall record and a 3-0 record in conference play.
The Trojans will be led by senior co-captains and outside hitters Ryan Moss and Jack Wyett. Moss has tallied 148 kills and hit at a .342 clip this season, while Wyett comes into the match with 151 kills on .319 hitting.
Redshirt junior opposite hitter Brandon Rattray will anchor the Bruins’ defense with 142 kills on .324 hitting this season. Rattray will be joined by junior outside hitter Austin Matautia, who has contributed 112 kills on .275 hitting to give the Trojan defense a challenge.
Up front, redshirt junior middle blocker Tyler Resnick has totaled 29 blocks this season and is coming into the match having set season-high records after tallying five blocks in each of the Trojans’ last two matches. Senior libero Matt Douglas comes into the match with 61 digs on the season and will rely on sophomore setter Chris Hall, who set a season record of his own with 55 assists against Stanford last week.
It has been a season of ups and downs for the men’s volleyball team. After falling to No. 8 Stanford and No. 9 BYU on the road last week, the Trojans are eager to swing the momentum back in their favor.
“We have to maintain our focus [and] do a lot of video [study and] a lot of game planning against [UCLA],” senior outside hitter Gianluca Grasso said. “They’re a really good team that we need to take on the road, so we have to be extra prepared and mentally focused … to know exactly what we’re doing against them.”
Historically, the Bruins have been dominant in these clashes, winning 96 of the 137 official contests between the two teams. In their last official match, however, the Trojans came out on top to snap the Bruins’ five-match win streak.
Despite going into the match as the underdog, the Trojans remain optimistic and excited about the challenge of facing UCLA on their home court.
“It’s always awesome to play UCLA,” Grasso said. “It’s always a great game. We have the rivalry … and it’s something that we always look forward to.”
At 6-foot-2 — a relatively short height for an outside hitter — Grasso is known for his athleticism and creative, beach volleyball-inspired style of play. When asked what USC fans could expect from Sunday’s match, he provided some additional insight.
“[They can anticipate] a lot of energy,” Grasso said. “We expect a lot of people to be there on Sunday …and we’re just ready to rock and roll.”
With the wind of urgency and rivalry at their sails, the Trojans will be looking to walk away from UCLA with a much-needed victory and some bragging rights. The match will take place 5 p.m Sunday at Pauley Pavilion.