A rematch against the defending MPSF champions UC Santa Barbara and a non-conference match against Penn State highlights the USC 2012 regular season schedule that the team released Tuesday.
USC finished last season ranked No. 1 in the final regular season coaches poll and reached the Final Four for the second time in the last three seasons. The Trojans have two starters returning for the upcoming season, including All-American outside attacker Tony Ciarelli.
Check out the five things to know about Grand Canyon’s schedule for the upcoming season.
Five things to know about the schedule
1. UC Santa Barbara rematch
After being upset in the NCAA Tournament semifinals last season, USC will not wait too long to get its rematch against UC Santa Barbara. The Trojans’ home match against the Gauchos on Feb. 1 will be the first time the two schools have played each other since the Final Four. USC entered that NCAA semifinal match as the No. 1 seed and was the first team in 16 years to be ranked No. 1 throughout the entire regular season. UC Santa Barbara reached the Final Four after upsetting three top-five nationally ranked teams to win the MPSF Tournament, including defeating USC in the championship match at the Galen Center. This rematch will feature a new cast of players from the 2011 matches. Outside attacker Tony Ciarelli and libero Henry Cassiday are the lone USC returning starters, while UC Santa Barbara has one returning starter.
2. Playing Penn State at home
The Trojans home non-conference match against the Nittany Lions will have a postseason feel, even down to the court and the arena configuration. The Galen Center along with being the site of the USC-Penn State match on March 9 will be in the middle of playing host to the women’s basketball Pac 12 Conference Championship Tournament. As a result, the men’s volleyball match will take place that Friday night at the conclusion of all the Pac 12 Tournament games for the day. The arena will maintain its Pac 12 Tournament configuration for the USC home match and will be a glimpse of how the Galen Center could look when it hosts the 2012 men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament in May. This match will also be the first time Penn State, which has reached 13 consecutive Final Fours, has played a road match against USC.
3. Balanced MPSF schedule
USC coach Bill Ferguson set up a conference schedule that prevents his team being away from the Galen Center for long stretches of time. USC’s four-match road trip against BYU, UC Irvine and UC San Diego in January will be its longest road trip of the season. Following these matches, the Trojans next longest road trip will be three matches in March. It will also have a four-match homestand in February and a five-match homestand starting in March. This is the second time in the last four seasons that the Trojans will not have at least a five-match MPSF road trip. The Trojans went 4-1 on its longest road trip in 2011 and 2-4 in 2009.
4. Battle Los Angeles
One of the oldest college volleyball rivalries will be renewed this upcoming season when USC plays its in-city rival UCLA on Feb. 3 at the Galen Center. The Trojans in their 42-year program history have played the Bruins more times than any other opponent and trail the all-time series 39-86. However, USC is on a five-match winning streak against UCLA, including beating the Bruins twice in the regular season and in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals last season. The upcoming season will also be the final year for Hall of Fame UCLA coach Al Scates in the rivalry. Scates announced in May that he would retire after the 2012 season. In addition to the match at the Galen Center, UCLA will play a home match against USC on March 14.
5. Long Beach State vs. USC 100th match
USC’s conference opener against Long Beach State on Jan. 12 at the Galen Center will be the 100th meeting between the two schools. USC playing Long Beach State is at the origins of the Trojans’ program that started in 1970s. The Trojans in their inaugural season played their season opener at home against the 49ers. Long Beach State won that match in three games, but USC leads the all-time series 54-45. The Trojans are on a six-match winning streak against the 49ers and have lost in the rivalry since 2008.
USC regular season schedule
7 p.m. Jan. 4 vs. Alberta (Exhibition)
7 p.m. Jan. 5 at Cal Baptist
7 p.m. Jan. 12 vs. Long Beach State*
7 p.m. Jan. 13 vs. Cal State Northirdge*
6 p.m. Jan. 20 at BYU*
6 p.m. Jan. 21 at BYU*
6 p.m. Jan. 27 at UC Irvine*
7 p.m. Jan. 28 at UC San Diego*
7 p.m. Feb. 1 vs. UC Santa Barbara*
7 p.m. Feb. 3 vs. UCLA*
7 p.m. Feb. 10 vs. Pepperdine*
7 p.m. Feb. 16 vs. Hope International
7 p.m. Feb. 24 at Stanford*
7 p.m. Feb. 25 at Pacific*
7 p.m. March 2 vs. Hawai’i*
TBD March 4 vs. Hawai’i*
TBD March 9 vs. Penn State
7 p.m. March 10 at Pepperdine*
7 p.m. March 14 at UCLA*
7 p.m. March 16 at UC Santa Barbara*
7 p.m. March 23 vs. George Mason
7 p.m. March 30 vs. Pacific*
7 p.m. March 31 vs. Stanford*
7 p.m. April 5 vs. UC San Diego*
7 p.m. April 7 vs. UC Irvine*
7 p.m. April 12 at Long Beach State*
7 p.m. April 14 at Cal State Northridge*
*Denotes MPSF match
All times PST