Brandon Johnson | Off the Block special contributor
LOS ANGELES — It’s always a special night when the Bruins face the Trojans on the volleyball court.
The teams entered the match knowing that bragging rights for the rest of the season were on the line. In the end, another chapter to the best rivalry in men’s college volleyball was written Wednesday in the Galen Center and another tally was added to the win column for UCLA against their crosstown foes.
It was domination from start to finish as No. 6/6 UCLA silenced the loud and raucous crowd and completed a sweep of the host No. 11/10 USC 25-18, 25-19, 25-17.
All-American attacker Jake Arnitz was unstoppable all night long finishing with 12 kills on 19 errorless swings, while also chipping in three blocks. Arnitz is finally healthy after missing significant time with a broken foot earlier in the season, and said he was pleased with his team’s effort against its chief counterparts.
“I thought we were able to put things together really nicely tonight and just go out there and compete,” Arnitz said.
Second-year UCLA assistant coach John Hawks brings insightful experience to the rivalry having also spent two seasons as an assistant coach at USC.
“It’s what people talk about in L.A. when it comes to volleyball,” Hawks said. “Being on the Bruin side is unreal. This rivalry is awesome.”
Of the 45 champions crowned in the history of NCAA men’s national collegiate volleyball, 23 have been won by the two schools. However, the gap between the programs feels even larger than the 12 miles that separate the schools.
The Trojans have plenty of ground to make up if they want to continue challenging the Bruins both on the court and on the recruiting trail. UCLA has won 19 championships compared to the four won by USC. The Bruins also hold an 84-35 overall record in head-to-head confrontations.
Jeff Nygaard, the second0year coach of USC, has already focused on the future by recruiting eight members off the 2017 AVCA High School Senior All-American Watch List to compete for the Trojans. It is with this class that the Trojans hope to turn things around against their biggest adversaries.
On this night, the Bruins tallied more kills, blocks, assists and aces proving that they are the team to beat in Los Angeles.
“[The rivalry] means everything”, Arnitz said. “It’s what competing is all about. Competing against your buddies, it’s always a good time.”
Brandon Johnson is a special contributor for Off the Block. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of Off the Block.