While the school was on spring break, the No. 12 men’s volleyball team spent their week hard at work. They finished off their fourth non-conference match on Sunday against Sacred Heart to extend their win streak to four games, which is the team’s longest since 2015. The Trojans will look to continue adding to that win column as they finish off the stretch of non-conference games with Concordia on Friday.
“That is a team that is going to be really challenging for us,” head coach Jeff Nygaard said. “Every match from here on out, as they all should have been, is the most important match we are going to have all season long. UCLA doesn’t exist until after Concordia. Santa Barbara doesn’t exist until after UCLA. There are a lot of stepping stones toward what we are trying to achieve.”
Even though these four victories go toward the team’s overall record, they do not count for the playoffs. While the wins may have no impact on their conference record, they still show what the team can achieve game after game. It is validation that what they are doing in practice is paying off.
“The playoffs are truly what matters the most,” Nygaard said. “We want to get better and better every single time out. We want to implement all the little things we have been talking about and all the big things. This is an opportunity to go out and showcase against a really talented team and work on some of the things that we are trying to implement and get really good at come to those in-conference matches.”
The Trojans have already played Concordia once this season and won to keep their record against the school a perfect 4-0. However, both teams have come a long way since the beginning of the season. For USC, the team has bought into the Trojan motto of “fighting on” as the season has developed. They came from being behind two sets to defeating Sacred Heart on Sunday and Nygaard was quick to give credit to his players.
“The guys are really absorbing it, taking it, and making it their own,” Nygaard said. “You can be as strong-willed a coach as you want, but if the guys aren’t representing it and doing it themselves, it only goes so far.”
The team will also get a chance to reconnect with their USC men’s volleyball history as the alumni game will be on Saturday. Not only will the current players get to face off against previous members in a friendly game, but they will also get to enjoy the company of players who lived in their shoes years before and get advice from them.
“The coolest thing about [the alumni game] is that there is a lot of remembrances, iconography and names in our locker room,” Nygaard said. “Then the wall pops to life and there is that person that you see in a picture that you see right in front of you having a live, one on one conversation. It is not just USC men’s volleyball and the history; it’s there is that person who can talk about the exact experience that they had … This is a chance to tie in that old school formative years that created what USC men’s volleyball is and should be.”
The Trojans will take on Concordia on Friday night at 7 p.m. They will then play against the alumni on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Galen Center Pavilion instead of the usual home court because of scheduling conflicts.