Coach Mark Pavlik is making sure his Penn State team will be tested next season during its annual mid-season West Coast road trip.
Pavlik said in an interview with Off the Block on Monday that Penn State will play a road non-conference match against USC during the 2015 season.
“It’s always a good match-up when you get the Trojans and Nittany Lions playing,” Pavlik said. “I don’t think there is anything that excites me more than just knowing that you are going up against a great program with great tradition.”
This will be the 25th all-time meeting between the two programs that have both won multiple NCAA championships. In addition, the Trojans at home swept the Nittany Lions during their most recent meeting in 2012.
Penn State finished last season winning its 16th consecutive EIVA championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament semifinals. The Nittany Lions also return all but one starter, including five players who earned 2014 all-conference honors
USC after a one-year postseason hiatus qualified for the eight-team MPSF Tournament last season and similar Penn State returns a majority of its starters.
Beyond the on-court match-up, Pavlik said he wants to use this non-conference match in March as a mid-season assessment of how Penn State fares against some of the top teams in the nation.
“You get a chance to see where you stand with that mile-marker,” the coach said.
The Penn State and USC non-conference match will also feature the only two current college players on the U.S. Men’s National Team roster for the current USA Volleyball Cup series.
USC setter Micah Christenson returned to the U.S. Men’s National Team during the summer following a stint with the team in the fall of 2013. The All-American incoming senior started every almost every match for the United States at the FIVB World League as the team won the international tournament for the first time since 2008.
Penn State All-American outside attacker Aaron Russell spent the summer training with the U.S. Men’s National Team and was selected to the roster for the exhibition series against Iran. In addition, the 2014 EIVA Player of the Year helped the United States win a gold medal at the NORCECA championships earlier this summer.