USC to play in 2019 Grow the Game Challenge

[Editor’s note: Off the Block each day from Aug. 6-15 will unveil one team participating in the 2019 Grow the Game Challenge. The entire tournament field and match schedule will be unveiled Thursday, Aug. 16.]

One of the most storied college men’s volleyball programs will make its debut at the Off the Block Grow the Game Challenge in 2019.

Off the Block announced Thursday that USC will participate in the nation’s largest non-conference tournament during the upcoming season.

The Grow the Game Challenge is an annual event that brings regular season matches to an area of the nation that does not have a NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team. The 2019 tournament will take place on Jan. 18-20 at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee.

“We are grateful to the Grow the Game Challenge organization for this opportunity to compete in Nashville,” USC coach Jeff Nygaard said. “We look forward to getting to compete early with top level teams as we embark into the 2018-2019 season. This competition will give us a great chance to showcase how our team is progressing towards our collective goals.”

USC finished last season in sixth place in the MPSF and upset No. 5 Pepperdine in the conference tournament quarterfinals. It also pulled off an upset in the final weeks of the regular season against its cross-town rivals No. 3 UCLA.

The Trojans return two starters who earned MPSF All-Freshman Team honors last season — middle attacker Sam Lewis and libero Cole Paxson.

USC will be one of two MPSF teams in the 10-team field for the Grow the Game Challenge.

This is the second year of the Grow the Game Challenge. The inaugural tournament also featured 10 NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball teams and was played in Nashville.

The Grow the Game Challenge operates as a non-profit organization that is based in Nashville. In addition, the organization is committed to help promoting the growth of college men’s volleyball throughout the United States.