For the first time in its program history, Grand Canyon will not have to travel to play a non-conference match versus a projected top-10 nationally ranked team.
USC announced Thursday that it would open the upcoming season on the road against Grand Canyon in the first meeting between to the two programs in five years.
Grand Canyon since joining the MIVA in 2010 has annually scheduled several non-conference road matches against the MPSF. This season-opener, though, will be first time the Antelopes have played host to a nationally ranked MPSF team.
USC returns a majority of its starters from last year’s team that reached the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals and finished No. 10 in the national coaches poll.
Among the returning Trojan starters includes All-American setter Micah Christenson, who during the off-season has been the starting setter for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Outside attacker Lucas Yoder also returns after being selected to the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Freshmen All-American Team last season.
This will be the second consecutive year the Trojans have opened the season on the road against a MIVA opponent. USC last season on the road defeated Loyola in what would be the NCAA champions’ only loss of the entire season.
Grand Canyon despite going 12-6 in non-conference play ended last season in seventh place in the MIVA and was eliminated in the conference tournament quarterfinals.
The Antelopes are 3-14 all-time against the MPSF, including beating Pacific on the road in its season opener last year. In addition, Grand Canyon defeated UC San Diego in 2012 — the only other time the Antelopes had a home match against the MPSF.
The USC season-opener was unveiled Thursday along with the rest of the Trojans’ regular season schedule for the upcoming season.
USC will play three non-conference matches in 2015 with home matches against Penn State and Lindenwood in March. The Lindenwood and USC match at the Galen Center will also be the first all-time meeting between USC and Lindenwood.
The Trojans are 42-10 all-time against the MIVA with their last loss to a MIVA opponent occurring in 2004 against Lewis.