Men’s volleyball loses close three-set game on the road against Concordia

Cole Paxson (white) and other USC men's volleyball players cheering in a game.
Senior libero Cole Paxson had eight digs and five assists in USC’s loss to Concordia in Irvine Thursday. (Daily Trojan file photo)

The USC men’s volleyball team lost its seventh match in a row this Thursday, falling to Concordia University in Irvine, Calif.. The  final set scores for the game were 23-25, 22-25, and 22-25. 

CUI came out strong offensively against USC, setting the tone early with their first five points being kills. For the final two sets, the Trojans managed to keep themselves neck-and-neck with the eagles, but it was late-set attack errors that ultimately allowed their opponent to run ahead on the scoreboard.

CUI’s final hitting percentage was 33.3% while USC’s was 27.8%. The Trojans finished with 17 attacking errors, compared to CUI’s 11.

USC ended the game with 33 digs against CUI’s 28, and 44 kills against CUI’s 41. Senior outside hitter Brandon Browning had the most kills from USC with 16, followed by junior outside and opposite hitter Billy Fauntleroy with 12. 

Senior libero Cole Paxson, who had eight digs and five assists in the game, explained how the Trojans’ passing and the pressure positively impacted the game. USC’s three man block formation was one of the strategies that helped the team gain points throughout each set. 

“It allowed us to be more free and read the game a little better,” Paxson said. “Obviously, we can improve and get the next win and just be able to crunch those closing points in the 20s … we missed a good amount of serves that allowed them to be off the hook, especially late in [the] game. We’ve got to be able to keep the pressure on through [the] entire game.” 

After their loss to CUI on Mar. 6, Paxson and company felt more confident coming into this game because they were familiar with how the Eagles play. Their starters were familiar and he felt trust for himself and his teammates’ abilities entering this game. 

Head coach Jeff Nygaard explained how the Trojans can become more familiar playing with each other, and continue to improve despite only having one win under their belt this season. 

“Once we achieve our chemistry and physicality and all those different pieces that go into having a high functioning team, we feel that the talents that we have, the abilities that we have, can put us in positions to have success,” Nygaard said. 

Paxson emphasized the need to move on from the loss and look ahead to the Trojans’ next game against the Eagles. 

“Our whole mindset right now is just be able to flip to the next game to play them again Saturday, and that’s the only game we can be worrying about at this point,” Paxson said. “What’s in the past is in the past and [we’ve] got to be able to perform this next game, Saturday.”

USC will close out their series against the Eagles Saturday, Mar. 13 at Galen Center; first serve is at 5 p.m.