The No. 12 USC men’s volleyball team traveled to Honolulu for the Texaco Rainbow Warrior Classic last weekend.
USC handily won its first two matches against two Division III programs: Juniata College and Stevens Institute of Technology. However, a hosting Hawaii team reasserted itself as the king of the island as it swept USC to win the championship. The Rainbow Warriors handed the Trojans their first loss of the season.
The Men of Troy kicked off the tournament on Thursday against Juniata. In the match, USC secured the upper hand early and never looked back. They jumped to a 7-0 lead in the first set, then recorded 10 unanswered points in the second set. Trojan redshirt junior outside hitter Jack Wyett led the team with 14 kills, five digs and an ace. USC outperformed Juniata in every major team statistic, paving the way for a 3-0 sweep with scores of 25-19, 25-9 and 25-21.
The following day, USC faced Stevens. Similar to the first match, USC cruised in the first set by building an early 5-0 lead and ultimately finishing the set 25-17. In the second set, USC rallied from a 17-21 deficit after freshman middle blocker Sam Lewis left with an ankle injury. The Men of Troy were led by a star performance from junior outside hitter Ryan Moss, as he added a career best of 21 kills along with seven digs, three blocks and three aces. The Trojans concluded the match victorious with a score of 3-1 (25-17, 27-25, 22-25, 25-18).
No. 5 Hawaii validated its ranking by sweeping USC on the tournament’s final day (17-25, 20-25, 22-25). The Trojans’ 4-0 start was not enough for them to claim the first set, as Hawaii responded with six unanswered points to steal the lead. In the second set, it was Hawaii’s turn to open with an early lead. The Rainbow Warriors scored five unanswered points out of the gate and continued to outscore the Trojans throughout the remainder of the match. A major part of Hawaii’s success came by doubling USC’s hitting percentage from .479 to .207. Sophomore outside hitter Gianluca Grasso contributed 13 kills plus two digs while Lewis sat out due to his ankle injury.
USC’s overall record now stands at 3-1. The Men of Troy will go on the road to No. 5 UC Irvine on Friday, followed by a Saturday home game against UC Santa Barbara at the Galen Center.