For the first time in almost 15 years, USC will travel to the Midwest for a non-conference match.
USC earlier this week unveiled its 2014 schedule that included the team opening its season with road non-conference matches against Loyola and Lewis on Jan. 4-5.
The Trojans have not traveled to the Midwest for a regular season non-conference match since 1999 when they competed at the IPFW Spring Fling Invitational. It is also the first time USC has left the West Coast for a non-conference since playing in the 2008 Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic.
The Trojans’ two opponents to open the upcoming season both reached the MIVA Tournament championship match in April.
Loyola returns a majority of its starters, including All-American outside attacker Joseph Smalzer, after defeating Lewis in the championship match to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in its program history. The Ramblers also will play host to the upcoming four-team NCAA Tournament in May 2014.
Similar to Loyola, Lewis has most of its starters returning and finished last season ranked in the national coaches poll.
USC following two consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances finished last season in 11th place in the MPSF and did not qualify for the postseason for the first time under coach Bill Ferguson. Among the starters returning for the Trojans in 2014 including All-American and U.S. Junior National Team setter Micah Christenson.
The matches against Loyola and Lewis will be USC’s first non-conference matches in almost two years. With the MPSF schedule increasing to 24 matches, the Trojans last year opted not to play any non-conference matches.
This is also the first time since 2010 that the Trojans have scheduled non-conference matches against the MIVA.
USC is on a 10-match winning streak against non-West Coast opponents dating back to 2009. The Trojans are also 24-9 against the MIVA with its last loss coming against Lewis in 2008.