No. 5 seed men’s volleyball finished their season with a loss in their third consecutive game against No. 4 seed Grand Canyon University in the MPSF Championship Tournament at BYU.
USC won one out of four sets (30-28, 20-25, 17-25, 23-25) and finished the season with an overall record of 5-13. They also finished the season unranked in the American Volleyball Coaches Association top 15.
Redshirt junior outside hitter Billy Fauntleroy led the Trojans with 18 total kills followed by junior Brandon Browning with 16. USC’s overall hitting percentage was only 31.6% compared to GCU’s 37.5%.
The Trojans also had a total of 58 kills, compared with 53 by the Antelopes, and 21 errors to GCU’s 14. There was a discrepancy among hitting attempts, with USC finishing with 117 hitting attempts compared to GCU’s 104. The discrepancy between the two teams’ statistics was a bit closer in other categories — USC had 54 assists to GCU’s 52, one ace versus GCU’s six and five blocks compared to GCU’s 7.5.
In the first set, a six point run gave the Trojans a significant lead, but the Antelopes closed the gap with a four point run. USC held on to win the set by scoring the last two points with a hitting percentage of 50%.
A three point run in the second set gave the Lopes the point and the third set was taken by GCU after a seven point run put the set out of reach for the Trojans.
In the must-win set for USC, the teams played neck-and neck-until the Trojans had a four point run. Soon afterward, the Lopes responded and went on a three point run bringing the teams to a tie at 17-17, then establishing a lead of 23-21, eventually taking the set at 25-23.
The Trojans had a number of ups and downs this season, starting off with a win in their first game against UCLA followed by a seven game slump in which they lost seven games in a row. The team broke the slump with a win but still went on to record two more losing streaks of three and four games later on in the season, respectively.
Considering the challenges the team faced, including having a shorter amount of time to practice and prepare for the season as well as rescheduled games and an inconsistent practice schedule, they certainly demonstrated some resilience but will have much room for improvement come next season.