USC, Lincoln Memorial to play in AVCA Spotlight match

The spotlight will be squarely on Lincoln Memorial and USC for newest college men’s volleyball trophy match.

The Grow the Game Challenge announced Thursday that the two teams will play in the Battle of the AVCA Spotlight at 8 p.m. Jan. 18 in Lebanon, Tennessee, as part of the Off the Block Grow the Game Challenge presented by MotorMVB.

While trophy games are uncommon in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball, they are used on other college sports such as football to hype up games and emerging rivalries. This trophy game concept is being utilized for the Grow the Game Challenge as a way to spotlight certain matches during the three-day non-conference tournament.

The American Volleyball Coaches Association is dedicated to advancing volleyball with an emphasis on coaching leadership, advocacy and professional development. The organization based in Lexington, Kentucky, has more than 7,000 members from around the nation, including college men’s volleyball coaches and boys’ high school coaches and boys’ club volleyball coaches.

This Battle of the AVCA Spotlight will be the first all-time meeting between USC and Lincoln Memorial.

The Trojans in 2018 pulled off two late-season upset victories against top-five nationally ranked teams. USC in the final weeks of the regular season beat its rival and NCAA Tournament finalists UCLA and then knocked off Pepperdine in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.

USC returns a majority of starters from last season, including middle attacker Sam Lewis. Lewis was named an Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American and during the offseason was the team captain of the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team.

Lewis is one of the two middle attackers who have received national accolades that will compete in this trophy match.

Lincoln Memorial middle attacker Pedro Carvalho as a freshman last season had a nation-best 1.54 blocks per game average. He also was named to the All-Independent Team and was a finalist for the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Blocker of the Year.

The Railsplitters, which competed last season as an independent without a conference affiliation, ended 2018 with the program’s first winning record and won the IVA Tournament.

The Grow the Game Challenge will take place Jan. 18-20 at Cumberland University. With a 10-team field, the Grow the Game Challenge will be the largest college men’s volleyball non-conference tournament during the upcoming season.

The match result from the Battle of the AVCA Spotlight, along all other 12 tournament matches, will count towards determining the overall tournament champion of the Grow the Game Challenge.

Tickets for all tournament matches can now be purchase online at $8 for a day pass and $20 for a tournament pass.