Trojans hope to make a statement against Anteaters

first_imgTomorrow night when the No. 1 USC men’s volleyball team (3-1, 1-0) travels to the Bren Center to face No. 3 UC Irvine (4-1, 1-0) in a rematch of last year’s NCAA final, there will be a lot more at stake than a chance at revenge.This year’s Trojan team, full of seasoned veterans and battle-tested leaders, understands that an early-season matchup against the Anteaters represents an opportunity to make a lasting statement as they go forward through conference play in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.“The last two seasons UCI ended our season, so we don’t care for the Anteaters too much,” junior outside hitter Tri Bourne said. “If there is going be a statement game this season this is going to be it, and we will make a statement.”Though last year’s heartbreaking five-set loss to UCI in the national championship left the Trojans with a bitter taste in their mouths, they enter the 2010 season with the loss serving as a source of inspiration. As the team has its sights set squarely on the ultimate prize in collegiate sports, the match that got away last May has motivated the players to become a more disciplined and focused unit this year.“I think that the main thing for us is having the mindset where we just play our game instead of trying to play better than we already are,” Bourne said. “We were given the No. 1 ranking in the country, [and] even though we believe that we deserve it, we all know that we have to prove that.”For UCI, 2006 AVCA Coach of the Year John Speraw’s team comes into Friday’s match with the Trojans red-hot after losing opening night to No. 6 BYU. After their four-set loss to the Cougars, UCI closed the Elephant Bar Tournament with two convincing victories over No. 11 UCSD and No. 7 Long Beach State.Leading the Irvine team in their quest to become the first repeat national champion in men’s volleyball since the 1996 UCLA Bruins achieved the feat are sophomore opposite Carson Clark — and senior outside hitter Cole Reinholm — who had a career-high 21 kills in the team’s win over UCSD earlier this month.For the Trojans, this week has already created some early-season praise from around the conference, after the team Wednesday night dispatched crosstown rival UCLA in just four sets on the Bruins’ home floor (30-26, 29-31, 30-26, 30-28). Despite the big win over their main rivals, this year’s Trojans embrace the concept that in order to win a national championship, the team must not rest on its laurels at any point.“Despite a big win against rival UCLA, we understand that we need to approach each game one at a time,” senior middle blocker Hunter Current said. “Every team, including UCI, wants to ruin our season and we’re looking to prove them wrong every time.”While fourth-year coach Bill Ferguson feels confident about his team’s chances Friday night, he admits that in order to beat a team of UCI’s caliber, his team must improve from the service line.“We haven’t been able to put teams under pressure with our service game,” Ferguson said. “It is something we need to continue to improve upon if we want any consistent success at a high level.”So while notions of a statement game or a chance to seek revenge may initially surround tomorrow night’s huge 7 p.m. matchup, when the whistle blows, the Trojans will have only one thing in mind when they face the Anteaters: to win.“This match is a good step for us,” Ferguson said. “Winning on the road in our league is very tough. Any time we can get a win, we will definitely cherish it.”last_img read more

Volleyball comes back to Field House after pair of big wins

first_imgSheffield specifically praised the way that sophomore setter Lauren Carlini handled herself and drove the team throughout the game and especially in the fourth set to get Wisconsin back on track. Carlini had 42 assists on the night.Now that the Badgers are back in Madison, they will experience a full week of practice for the first time in a while after playing weekday matches the last three weeks. Following a day off Sunday, Sheffield said he is optimistic that his players will be ready to go in practice all week.The full week of practice will be much needed as the Badgers prepare to take on newcomers to the Big Ten, Rutgers and Maryland. Both teams have struggled through the early going of the conference season with identical 0-4 Big Ten records, but they have still compiled seven wins apiece.To prepare for a pair of squads that Wisconsin hasn’t seen much of, Sheffield said much of the gameplan will revolve around watching game film of the Scarlet Knights and Terrapins. While Sheffield and the players have yet to watch Rutgers in action this season, they did see Maryland play two matches when both teams participated in the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge.Wisconsin has been slowly making its way back up to the top of the rankings after two loses in a row against top ranked teams, Washington and Penn State.Despite the tough, early season losses, Sheffield said his players have remained resilient.“I think they were really, really down after those two losses, and they got back in the gym,” Sheffield said. “I think there was even stronger focus, stronger will … So I think that is the thing that I’m learning about this team and the players on this team is they may get knocked down, but they don’t stay down for long.”The Badgers have bounced back strong and hope to continue that trend in the upcoming weekend against strong rivals. Their recent successes are largely due in part to the team’s strong ability to communicate with each other both on and off the court.“If there is a big, big gap between the coach and the leaders, that is when miscommunication happens,” Sheffield said. “That’s when people go off and do their own thing. Those have usually been my toughest teams is when those leaders are [on a] totally different page than me. The group here, I think we’ve got some great leaders. They’ve done a really good job of making sure that the players away from the practice are doing and saying the right things. They’re coming to practice in the right mindset.”The Badgers will face off against Rutgers Friday at 7 p.m. and Maryland Sunday at 1 p.m. at the UW Field House. The No. 6 Wisconsin volleyball team is back in Madison this weekend after two victories in their first Big Ten road games of the season.The Badgers are coming off two big wins against Northwestern (13-2, 3-1 Big Ten) and Illinois (11-4, 3-1).In his press conference Monday, head coach Kelly Sheffield addressed the team’s recent success and upcoming games.“It was a tough week. Northwestern and Illinois are two really, really good teams on the road,” Sheffield said. “I thought the Northwestern match, I thought it was … very balanced. I thought Kelli Bates, in particular, stood out that match and really played well. I thought we served the ball really well.”The Badgers defeated the Wildcats last Wednesday night in three straight sets, 25-20, 25-16 and 25-23. As Sheffield referenced, the freshman outside hitter Bates had a big night with 13 kills.After the sweep of Northwestern, Wisconsin continued the Illinois road trip with a visit to Champaign Saturday night.“Illinois, probably one of the toughest environments I’ve been in, certainly the loudest environment I’ve ever been,” Sheffield said. “We came out and executed the first couple of games and got our tails kicked in game three pretty handedly. We came back and refocused in game four. We came up with what I thought was a huge win.”The Badgers faced the Fighting Illini in front of a rowdy, sold-out crowd. Despite the hostile environment, Wisconsin won the match in four sets 25-17, 25-22, 11-25 and 25-23.So how loud is Huff?? Try an ear-splitting 105 dB!! #illiniNOISE pic.twitter.com/vZm4PNdJnY— Illinois Volleyball (@IlliniVBall) October 5, 2014last_img read more