USC looks to rebound against Cal Baptist

first_imgAfter an upset loss at the hands of conference rival Cal State Northridge last Friday, the men’s volleyball team looks to rebound in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play tonight against Cal Baptist. The Trojans (4-2, 3-2) were swept by Cal State Northridge in three sets by a score of 25-19, 25-21, 25-21.On the attack · Junior middle blocker Robert Feathers and his team will seek to rebound from their loss to CSUN against Cal Baptist tonight at the Galen Center. Feathers has recorded 26 kills so far this season. – Tucker McWhirter | Daily TrojanRedshirt senior opposite outside hitter Tanner Jansen led the team with seven kills during the matchup at Cal State Northridge (2-3, 2-3), but it wasn’t enough to stop the Matadors, who served for nine aces and had 12.5 blocks against the Trojans.“We really had some issues passing the ball,” head coach Bill Ferguson said. “We made 14 service errors, and we had nine reception errors, so in essence we gave them two points shy of a full set on first contacts of the rally. That was the key factor. We just couldn’t get anything going. Every time we started to get something going, we just shot ourselves in the foot with a service error or a defensive error.”USC came into the matchup ranked as the No. 4 team in the country while Cal State Northridge had not yet cracked the top 15. The Trojans dropped to No. 5 in this week’s American Volleyball Coaches Association poll with the Matadors jumping to No. 13. The Trojans will have to try to avoid another upset against unranked Cal Baptist.Ferguson said that the team needs to cut out the defensive errors to get back to its winning ways.“We’re just looking to get back on track passing the ball,” he said. “That’s been one of our strengths so far this year, and Cal Baptist serves really tough.”Ferguson said that Cal Baptist will primarily run its offense through the middle rather than on the outside. Though the Lancers  could make adjustments and hit from the outside if the Trojans choose to overload the middle, the team is most concerned with preparing  for Cal Baptist’s skilled middle blockers.“They have two middles that are excellent,” Ferguson said referring to 6-foot-11 Kristopher Johnson and 6-foot-8 Amir Lugo-Rodriguez. “They create some matchup issues. Their offense runs through the middle, then they set a fast ball to the outside, but they want to run the middle first.”Because the Lancers have much stronger middle blockers than outside hitters on offense, he said he will likely start defensive-oriented junior outside hitter Chris Lischke rather than the stronger offensive threat in junior middle blocker Robert Feathers along with usual starter freshman Andy Benesh. Ferguson said Feathers will probably come in as a substitute late in the game, however, if USC needs a spark on offense.“Robert seems to be better off the bench than Chris,” Ferguson said. “It’s not really a punishment, it’s just that [Feathers is] the guy that can change the energy really quick in a good way. His ability to change the energy is really important and I don’t know if that’s Chris’ nature as much, but that’s something Robert’s able to do.”With wins over Long Beach State, UC Irvine and UC San Diego but losses to Pepperdine as well as Cal State Northridge in conference play, the Trojans sit in the fifth spot in MPSF rankings. The Matadors are tied for sixth in the 13-team conference and Cal Baptist is tied for ninth. The Lancers beat UC San Diego in five sets this season but have been swept by Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State and UC Irvine.The matchup against Cal Baptist comes three days before another crucial conference home game for the Trojans against BYU. The Cougars, who come to town Saturday, sit atop the conference standings after winning all six of their MPSF matchups so far this season. BYU is ranked fourth in the country. Pepperdine sits at No. 3, and UCLA is tied for first with Loyola-Chicago. The Trojans defeated Loyola-Chicago before the start of conference play earlier this season. Ferguson said he would love for the team to bring some momentum into Saturday’s game against BYU with a win tonight.“That would be huge, it definitely would be,” he said. “If we’re able to bounce back and have a good game passing the ball, then we’ll be alright.”The Trojans begin play at 8 p.m. tonight at the Galen Center.last_img read more

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