No. 5 men’s volleyball drops close contest to No. 7 Pepperdine

The No. 5 USC men’s volleyball team lost 3-2 in its first MPSF conference game to No. 7 Pepperdine after a two hour and 30 minute-long battle. The loss makes them 0-1 to open conference play. 

The Trojans had a five game losing streak against Pepperdine prior to this matchup, and they faced a challenge with an away crowd in Pepperdine’s Firestone Fieldhouse. 

“That Pepperdine gym is a difficult environment … We struggle with that,” said senior middle blocker Liam Schroeder. 

USC was riding a hot 10-2 start to the season, and Schroeder said that he felt the game plan was in place to execute.  

“I think we had a good scouting report coming into this game. We kind of had a good anticipation of what to expect,” Schroeder said. 

The Trojans started off the game strong with a 25-23 win in the first set, but the Waves roared back for a 25-17 win in the second. Pepperdine then used its momentum to take a hard-fought third set by a score of 28-26. 

The Trojans were able to fight back and win the fourth set 26-24 to force a winner-takes-all fifth set, where they eventually fell 15-13. 

USC ended the game with four players having double-digit kills. Graduate outside hitter/opposite hitter/setter Sam Korbine led the team with 20 kills; redshirt sophomore opposite hitter Simon Gallas contributed 16 kills; senior outside hitter Brandon Browning had 14 and Schroeder had 10. 

Unforced Trojan errors only helped the Waves, who especially capitalized on Trojan service errors in the second and third sets. The Trojans had 26 attacking errors compared to only 20 attacking errors for the Waves. They also had 21 service errors, compared to only Pepperdine’s 15. 

“We can’t be giving them free points like that,” Schroeder said.

USC’s close loss showed room for growth and a chance at ending its losing streak against the Waves.

“I think it’s really going to come down to serve and pass, and I know we have it in us to really propel ourselves past them,” Schroeder said. 

The Trojans will get another shot at beating Pepperdine, this time on their own court, at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25 at Galen Center. 

“I think we play really well at Galen, and I’m confident that we can come away with a big victory,” Schroeder said.