USC falls to UCLA, now readies to face Pepperdine

The USC men’s volleyball team fell to UCLA in a three-set match on Valentine’s Day. The Trojans had low hitting percentages in each of the three sets, being in the negatives in the second set. The Bruins showed more consistency, hitting near .550 in two of the three sets. USC averaged a hitting percentage of .141 throughout the whole match, while the Bruins held up .458.

Freshman middle blocker Sam Lewis returns a shot at the net. Alex Zhang | Daily Trojan

No. 2 UCLA now boasts a 14-1 overall record (3-0 in the MPSF).

Junior outside hitters Ryan Moss and Jack Wyett lead the Trojans with nine and six kills, respectively. Wyett added his defense with four blocks and four digs. Outside hitter Lucas Lassone also contributed four kills. Gianluca Grasso, their usual starting outside hitter, was out due to a concussion. Usual setters Chris Hall and Gert Lisha ran their offense, each with nine assists.

With their latest loss, the Trojans fell to 4-9 on the season. They are now in danger of falling out of the AVCA Coaches’ Top 15 rankings.

For the Bruins, junior outside hitter Dylan Missry lead the offense with 12 kills, along with senior opposite hitter Christian Hessenauer with 11 kills. Their starting setter Micah Ma’a had a total of 39 assists, significantly helping secure their win over their rivals.

Next the Trojan men’s volleyball team will travel to Malibu on Saturday where they will take on No. 12 ranked Pepperdine. The Waves will be coming off a four-set victory against UC Irvine. Last time they met, the Trojans won in a competitive five-set victory at home. Pepperdine men’s volleyball currently holds a 6-3 record (2-1 in conference) recently defeating Concordia, Irvine and losing to Grand Canyon University.

Pepperdine is currently working their .278 hitting percentage as a team, and averaging 12.4 kills per set. Their offense is led by senior outside hitters Colby Harriman and Alex Harthaller. Junior outside hitters David Wieczorek and Michael Wexter have contributed to the Waves’ offense with their high hitting percentages. Max Chamberlain holds down the middle blocker position as a junior, with a .353 hitting percentage and averaging .95 blocks per set. Redshirt senior libero Weston Barnes leads the Pepperdine defense along with the impressive efforts from redshirt freshman setter Robert Mullahey. Mullahey runs the court as a setter, averaging 10.53 assists per set.

The Trojans are prepared to take on what is projected to be a hard-fought battle. Wyett, who currently leads the MPSF in number of kills, reflected on the fight against the Waves.

“It’s a good opportunity to capitalize our talent away and just keep building a good record in the conference,” Wyett said. “Another good opportunity to get better as a team.”

With the team dipping well below a .500 winning percentage, USC players recognize they have a lot to work on ahead of their next contest.

“It’s gonna take time [to improve],” redshirt junior middle blocker Connor Inlow said. “But consistently practicing with an aggressive mindset and making sure that everyone’s doing their job to know that we can build trust.”

While the Trojans have a lot to work on as a team, they are working hard at practice every day to reach their goals.

After the Pepperdine match on Saturday, USC will face Concordia University and Grand Canyon at the Galen Center next week.