After a couple of tough outings against No. 3 UC Santa Barbara that saw No. 1 Long Beach State come out victorious, the team is back on the road this weekend against No. 11 USC.
The 49ers (19-0) are coming off some of their toughest wins of the season and will be looking to fix some mistakes they made against the Gauchos as fuel to battle the Trojans (12-8). Long Beach used a “next man up” style for its victories against Santa Barbara, with senior opposite Kyle Ensing matching a career-high 27 kills, leading the team to victory. An unfamiliar face made an appearance Mar. 15 after senior outside hitter Louis Richard had a rough couple of outings.
Posting a .042 hitting percentage Mar. 14 and eventually being subbed out early in the second set Mar. 15 against Santa Barbara, Richard paved the way for sophomore outside hitter Ethan Siegfried to come in and make immediate impact. Siegfried posted 10 kills and 10 digs while hitting .600, making him a key component for Long Beach’s victory.
USC will be leaning on redshirt senior outside hitter Jack Wyett and senior outside hitter Ryan Moss, who carry more than half the team’s total kills. The Trojans’ home crowd that will be smaller than usual during the matchup because of conflicting schedules with the Galen Center. Teams will play in the North Gym which only holds 500.
“One of the things I think is really good is that we just got done playing in a small gym up in Santa Barbara with a huge crowd and we’re going to play in an even smaller gym, which will make the crowd feel even larger,” head coach Alan Knipe said. “There’s so many times we play in arenas, that’s what our sport has turned into … so [we’ll get] the opportunity to play against a team that’s going to try to come out and be really aggressive and run a fast offense.”
Long Beach will rely on team effort to conquer USC, especially with redshirt senior Nick Amado’s offense becoming a great addition to the already high-powered offense the 49ers carry. Along with his offensive game coming together, Amado’s defense has been dominant, earning him Big West Conference defensive player of the week.
The 49ers will be looking to come out sharp in on unfamiliar territory against the Trojans, who were the only team they dropped a set to up until last week’s matchups.
Long Beach will travel to Los Angeles 7 p.m. Saturday to face USC in the North Gym.