Brandon Johnson and Jonathan Bates
The USC men’s volleyball team enters the 2020 season with high hopes after reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2019. The road to back-to-back tournament appearances begins on January 2 when the Trojans host Princeton at Galen Center.
From there, the schedule for USC features two trips back East in January, with two-match tournament stops at George Mason and Penn State. On those trips, the Trojans will face George Mason and NJIT in Fairfax, Virginia, the home of the 2020 National Championships, and Ohio State and Penn State in Pennsylvania.
In total, USC will play five nationally-televised matches on the Pac-12 Networks during MPSF play.
The non-league schedule for the Trojans also features marquee matches, first against UC Irvine in Los Angeles (January 18) and then at two-time defending champion, Long Beach State (February 2).
Long Beach State (28-2, 10-0 Big West) and USC (18-11, 7-5 MPSF) split the home-and-home series last year, with the Beach winning in four games at the Walter Pyramid while the Trojans won in a sweep at North Gym. The Trojans outhit the eventual national champs, .493 to .215; the loss was the Beach’s only regular-season loss and the .215 attack percentage was a season-worst.
The Beach lose six starters from last year’s team, including national player of the year, setter Kyle Ensing, outside attacker TJ DeFalco, outside attacker Louis Richard, setter Josh Tuaniga, middle attacker Nick Amado, and libero Jordan Molina. The loss of these six players represents over 80% of the Beach’s kills, assists, aces, and digs from last year. Coach Alan Knipe will look to outside attacker Ethan Siegfried and middle attacker Simon Anderson to lead the Beach in 2020.
The Trojans hold a 62-53 record in the all-time series.
The Trojans will need to replace much of their offensive production from the 2019 squad as 2019 All-Americans Ryan Moss, Gianluca Grasso, and Jack Wyatt have all used up their college eligibility. Coach Jeff Nygaard will look to setter Chris Hall, middle attacker Sam Lewis, and pin hitters Kyle Gear and Brandon Browning to pick up the slack. The loss of Moss, Grasso, and Wyatt represents 70% of USC’s kills from last year.
In 2019, the Trojans ranked in the top ten nationally with 11.91 assists per game, 12.81 kills per game, and a .320 attack percentage. Individually, Hall ranked No. 10 nationally with 9.88 assists per game.
2020 USC Men’s Volleyball Schedule
Thursday, Jan. 2 vs. Princeton
Friday, Jan. 10 at George Mason
Saturday, Jan. 11 vs. NJIT (Neutral site)
Thursday, Jan. 16 vs. Concordia-Irvine
Saturday, Jan. 18 vs. UC Irvine
Friday, Jan. 24 vs. Ohio State (Neutral site)
Sunday, Jan. 26 at Penn State
Friday, Jan. 31 at CSUN
Saturday, Feb. 1 at Long Beach State
Thursday, Feb. 6 at UC San Diego
Saturday, Feb. 8 vs. Grand Canyon
Friday, Feb. 14 at Pepperdine
Sunday, Feb. 16 at UCLA
Thursday, Feb. 20 at Stanford
Saturday, Feb. 22 at BYU
Saturday, Feb. 29 vs. UC Santa Barbara
Thursday, March 5 vs. Saint Francis
Saturday, March 7 vs. Lindenwood
Wednesday, March 11 at Concordia-Irvine
Saturday, March 14 vs. Harvard
Friday, March 26 vs. BYU
Saturday, March 28 vs. Stanford
Thursday, April 2 vs. Pepperdine
Saturday, April 4 vs. UCLA
Thursday, April 9 at Grand Canyon