No. 15 USC men’s volleyball took down the Princeton Tigers in a 3-0 victory at Galen Center Thursday night.
Senior outside hitters Jack Wyett and Ryan Moss led the Trojans offensively with 12 kills each, and sophomore setter Chris Hall aided with 31 assists. Wyett and freshman outside hitter Brandon Browning anchored the defense with 5 and 4 digs, respectively. Senior outside hitter Gianluca Grasso, typically an asset on the hardwood, was on the sidelines for an injury. but he is expected to be back to play against UC Irvine Saturday.
The first set stayed close with the two teams trading small leads until the Trojans pulled ahead 19-14. The Tigers narrowed the gap once again to put the score at 19-17, but never fully caught up, allowing USC to secure a 25-22 victory.
The second set mirrored the first, with neither team picking up a strong lead at the start until USC scored 4 consecutive points for a 14-7 lead and stayed ahead for the remainder of the set. The Tigers did keep things interesting, narrowing in on the Trojans 24-22, but USC scored the last point for a 25-22 finish.
Princeton scored the first point of the third set and USC answered back to ultimately keep the lead for the entire set. Although the Tigers kept up, they never managed to change the lead and USC went uncontested for a 25-21 set.
“Tonight I think we played with a lot of consistency,” Moss said. “I was really proud of Browning, who stepped into the starting role and played really well. [Sophomore libero] Cole Paxson came in the third set and played really well, so it was a full team effort, and I think we played a complete match which is what we want to do.
Even though the score slipped a few times, the Trojans reclaimed their leads with poise.
“We got knocked on our heels a couple times with some service errors and sloppy plays, but we were able to bring it back, which was good to see,” Moss said.
On Saturday, the Trojans travel to No. 4 UC Irvine, who they upset 3-1 last week even though the Trojans were unranked and the Anteaters were No. 3.
Unless any drastic changes are made to UC Irvine’s roster, the Trojans will not prepare for the game any differently.
“I think it’s really on how we play on our side,” Moss said. “If we play our best game, and everybody clicks and we get into that mentality and emotional mindset, that lets us play our best volleyball. That’s all we really need to focus on is that consistent level of play, regardless of the opponent. We need to bring the same mentality to every game,” Moss said.
The match will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday in Irvine at the Bren Events Center.
“We’re going to be at their place, we expect it to be loud and we expect that they’ll want to get revenge, so we’re prepared for a fight. We’re ready to go in there and compete really hard,” Moss said.