No. 1 USC volleyball set to clash with No. 2 BYU

first_imgThe foundation for USC’s men’s volleyball program was built long before Missouri native and senior outside hitter Murphy Troy began pelting the Galen Center hardwood court with explosive kills, and long before a prolific Hawaiian recruiting pipeline produced the McKibbin brothers, Tri Bourne and Henry Cassiday.Pedigree · While past players will be honored prior to tonight’s game, senior outside hitter Murphy Troy has an impressive résumé of his own. – Daily Trojan file photo Two Trojan legends, Dusty Dvorak and Celso Wallace, who played on the 1977 national championship team, will see their jerseys raised to the rafters after tonight’s match against No. 2 BYU, in the presence of Ernie Hix, who coached the team from 1974 to 1981 and is regarded as the godfather of USC’s men’s volleyball program.At risk of exaggerating comparisons, it is not unimaginable to think that some players on this year’s roster might one day join these icons. An opportunity to improve their résumés presents itself tonight, as the No. 1 USC men’s volleyball team (10-1, 10-1) puts its ranking on the line against No. 2 BYU (13-4, 9-3) at 7 p.m. in the Galen Center.“[BYU is] a physical team that runs a strong offense, with great attacking in the middle,” said  Murphy Troy, who has accrued eye-popping statistics in his four years at USC. “It’s going to be a great weekend, and we’re really looking forward to the challenge of playing these guys.”The Trojans’ two most recent road wins were noteworthy for different reasons, as the games posed unique tests of mental fortitude. A game at unranked Cal State Northridge team drew few fans, and questions abounded regarding whether the Trojans would take their lowly opponent too lightly; they won in straight sets.Against No. 6 Long Beach State, the Trojans had to grind out a grueling five-set win — a stage of the match they have successfully avoided for much of the season. Undoubtedly, tonight’s game might require a fifth set, and the importance of the Trojans’ experience against Long Beach State cannot be discounted.To defeat BYU, the formula to success has not changed, as the team sees no need to adjust its game plan.“It sounds cliché, and I’ve said this most weeks, but we must pass the ball well,” said USC coach Bill Ferguson. “We must do a good job blocking when the team is out of its system in order to win the points we should.”Although opposite Robb Stowell paces the BYU offense with 226 kills at an efficient .345 clip, Ferguson identified the team’s middle blocker Futi Tavana, who has supplemented his 121 kills with an impressive 107 blocks this season, as a player of particular focus for the Trojans.“Tavana is leading the nation in blocking,” Ferguson said. “He is a big, athletic and skilled player who plays a really physical net game. He really sets the tone up front.”Senior middle blocker Austin Zahn, however, refused to mask the importance of tonight’s match to his team.“For us, this is like a mini national championship game right now,” Zahn said. “We’ve beaten [several top-ranked teams], but haven’t gotten a shot at BYU yet.”last_img read more