Trojans to host Concordia on Tuesday

first_imgAfter splitting with conference rivals over the weekend, the men’s volleyball team returns home today for its final                                  nonconference tune-up before the end of the regular season and the start of the postseason.The No. 7 Trojans (15-8, 13-7 MPSF) maintained their spot in fourth place in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference standings after beating Stanford but falling to Pepperdine last week. On Tuesday, they host Concordia in a break from MPSF play.Concordia, which plays in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics rather than the NCAA, will return to the Galen Center for the second-straight year. Though not a conference or NCAA match, it will count as an official match and not a scrimmage or exhibition event.Concordia (14-10), the No. 6 team in the NAIA, won the NAIA national championship in 2013. This season, against other MPSF opponents in the NCAA, Concordia has defeated unranked UC San Diego (2-23, 0-19 MPSF) and No. 21 Stanford (10-14, 7-11) but has fallen to No. 13 UC Santa Barbara (14-8, 10-8).Last year, the Trojans took down the Eagles in four sets (27-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-18). The Trojans celebrated Senior Night that match, honoring the five seniors on the squad. Then-senior opposite Tanner Jansen led the team with 20 kills, 11 digs and four blocks. Though toward the end of the regular season, the Trojans will not be celebrating Senior Night just yet this season, saving that ceremony for the team’s final home game on April 18 against unranked Cal Baptist (6-20, 2-18).The match today is the only official, organized competition for the team this week. This Saturday, the team will celebrate the program’s alumni with an alumni exhibition match at the Galen Center. Head coach Bill Ferguson said in his weekly media recap that members of the current team would draft two teams of alumni players to compete against each other, then the two alumni teams will join together to compete against the current team.“I think that’s kind of unique,” he said. “I think most times, a lot of schools just get the alumni to play against the varsity team and that’s it. We want our alumni guys to be able to play and play against each other. By having our guys draft the team, I think it’s really fun and it brings a connection that’s a little bit tighter.”Ferguson said it’s a great event for the team, especially as they prepare to head into playoffs.“It’s a very important day for us every year and we’re glad it happens at the end of the year,” he said. “It kind of reinvigorates the alumni, gets some face-to-face contact with our guys, and maybe it’ll spur a few of them on to come to a match or two or a playoff game.”The Trojans were swept on the road by No. 8 Pepperdine (21-4, 16-4) on April 2  (25-20, 25-14, 25-20), but they came back with a sweep of Stanford the following Saturday (25-23, 25-22, 25-18). The Trojans split with the Waves on the season, having beaten them at home earlier this season in four sets, but swept the Cardinal on the year after also winning in three sets when they hosted Stanford.Ferguson said that while several different players on the team were hitting for a high percentage, the team didn’t do a good enough job passing and serving to keep up with Pepperdine.“We were doing some great stuff attacking on the pins,” he said. “Unfortunately…  Pepperdine was just serving great and we were out of system the whole night.”The Trojans are one of four MPSF teams to have clinched a spot in the conference tournament. The top eight teams in the conference standings of the 12-team conference qualify for the tournament. The winner of the tournament earns an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Three other conferences in the NCAA have automatic qualifiers and there are an additional two at-large bids to the tournament.The Trojans currently sit behind No. 1 Hawai’i (21-3, 16-2), No. 4 UC Irvine (22-4, 16-3) and Pepperdine in the conference standings. Hawai’i, UC Irvine and Pepperdine have all clinched at least one home match in the MPSF tournament. USC would play its first round match at home if the current standings remained the same at the end of the season, but the Trojans have not guaranteed their spot in the top four yet.Chasing behind the Trojans are UC Santa Barbara and No. 6 BYU (13-9, 10-8). Though USC has three more wins and one less loss, both could hypothetically still jump the Trojans in the standings with two games at hand. USC split the season series with both the Gauchos and Cougars, but won fewer sets in both pairs of       head-to-head matchups. The Trojans can avoid the tiebreaker, however, and clinch the fourth spot with a season sweep of Cal Baptist next week to close the season.The Trojans take on Concordia tonight at 7 p.m. in the Galen Center.last_img

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