Men’s volleyball: Team to test itself in tonight’s

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    By ROMNEY M. STEWART

    The Trojans from the University of Southern California will be in Provo to square off against the men’s volleyball team at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse.

    The Trojans are not having as much success this year as they have usually had in years past. They are 2-8 overall, 1-7 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, and are coming off a bitter five-set loss to No. 16 Loyola Marymount on Tuesday.

    The young Trojans, who routinely play four freshman at one time, have a great coaching staff led by head coach Pat Powers. Senior middle blocker Szilard Kovacs has been a consistent performer, tallying between 25 to 30 kills per game. Freshman outside hitter Eli Fairfield also provides a boost for the Trojans.

    Following last week’s trip to California, during which the Cougars went 1-2, BYU is now ranked third in the nation, behind UCLA and Pepperdine.

    BYU is looking to get back to winning form behind Shane Van Beest’s hitting. Van Beest leads the team in hitting percentage (.395), blocks (2.63) and service aces (0.44). Ryan Millar is the team leader in kills (5.24) and Ossie Antonetti leads in digs per game (2.59). Setter Chris Pitzak averages 13.92 assists per game.

    Millar and Van Beest also rank first and second in the nation in NCAA national blocking statistics.

    Assistant coach Troy Tanner feels that although the Cougars had moments this past week when they played like champions, the team needs to extend the length of time they perform at that level. One of the matches against Pepperdine last week lasted 2 1/2 hours.

    This weekend the team will have an opportunity to test their stamina against the Trojans.

    “They’ve got a good coach and athletes, plus they’re SC,” Tanner said.

    “We’re expecting a tough match, but we’re also expecting to win.”

    The Cougars have been impressive, even dominating, when playing on their home floor, which is one of the most difficult arenas in the country to play in for opposing teams. Road trips, however, present their fair share of problems, and the team needs to be more consistent when they’re playing the visitor role.

    The players feel that it’s time to put last week’s tough losses behind them and focus on the rest of the young season.

    Outside hitter Adam Zuffinetti and setter Hector LeBron echoed Tanner’s sentiments.

    “Man, we need to stomp USC. They are dead,” Zuffinetti said.

    LeBron summed up the Cougars’ feelings about the recent turn of events and this weekend’s game. “I think we’re pretty mad,” he said.

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