UK’s Johnson says will not ignore anger over racial injustice

first_imgBritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson has acknowledged the “cold reality” behind angry protests against racial injustice, but warned he would not tolerate violence or the breaking of coronavirus distancing laws.Demonstrations have broken out across Britain following the death of George Floyd in the United States, most of them peaceful, although clashes in London left 35 police officers hurt.”We simply cannot ignore the depth of emotion that has been triggered by that spectacle of a black man losing his life at the hands of the police,” Johnson said in a statement late Monday. Topics : He said while Britain had made “huge strides… there is so much more to do — in eradicating prejudice, and creating opportunity, and the government I lead is committed to that effort.”However, he warned the country was “in a time of national trial” as it battled the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed 40,000 people in Britain. ‘Bygone era’ “I will not support those who flout the rules on social distancing,” he said.”And no, I will not support or indulge those who break the law, or attack the police, or desecrate public monuments.”London protesters defaced the statue of World War II leader Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, and in Bristol, southwest England, crowds pulled down a statue of a notorious local slave trader.”We have a democracy in this country. If you want to change the urban landscape, you can stand for election, or vote for someone who will,” Johnson said.London mayor Sadiq Khan on Tuesday announced a review of the capital’s landmarks, including statues and road names, many of which he said “reflect a bygone era”.”We must ensure that we celebrate the achievements and diversity of all in our city, and that we commemorate those who have made London what it is — that includes questioning which legacies are being celebrated,” he said. “In this country and around the world his dying words — I can’t breathe — have awakened an anger and a widespread and incontrovertible, undeniable feeling of injustice, a feeling that people from black and minority ethnic groups do face discrimination: in education, in employment, in the application of the criminal law.”And we who lead and who govern simply can’t ignore those feelings because in too many cases, I am afraid, they will be founded on a cold reality.”He continued: “And so I say yes, you are right, we are all right, to say Black Lives Matter.”And to all those who have chosen to protest peacefully and who have insisted on social distancing, I say, yes of course I hear you, and I understand.”last_img read more

Governor Wolf’s Week, November 20 – December 3, 2016

first_img December 02, 2016 The Blog,  Weekly Update Last week, Governor Wolf continued his Jobs That Pay initiative by announcing a major new plan and investment in the Port of Philadelphia that will create good, middle class jobs in Southeast Pennsylvania. The Administration also continued to make fighting the opioid epidemic a top priority. First Lady Frances Wolf joined Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas at Family First Health in Hanover, PA to discuss the Wolf Administration’s top priority of combatting the opioid abuse epidemic.This week, the Wolf Administration announced the first-ever ‘It’s On Us PA’ grants to combat campus sexual assault. Thirty-six colleges and universities were awarded up to $30,000 to implement programs and strategies that align with the goals of the Governor’s It’s On Us PA campaign.As in years past, Governor Wolf’s office announced that he would not be attending Pennsylvania Society and, in lieu of his attendance, the Governor and First Lady Wolf will be volunteering in central Pennsylvania.In response to several incidents of racism and religious intolerance, Governor Wolf and his administration wish to remind Pennsylvanians, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or identity, or religion, that PA Has Your Back.Governor Wolf’s Week, November 20 – December 3, 2016Monday, 11/21/16Governor Tom Wolf Announces Disaster Assistance Approved for Victims of Severe Flooding in North-Central PennsylvaniaGovernor Wolf Takes Action on LegislationIn York County, First Lady Frances Wolf Discusses Efforts to Battle Opioid EpidemicTuesday, 11/22/16Governor Wolf Announces $300 Million Investment for Port of Philadelphia to Double Container Capacity, Create JobsMonday, 11/28/16Governor Wolf Reminds Pennsylvanians of New Criminal Record Sealing LawTuesday, 11/29/16Wolf Administration Awards First-ever ‘It’s On Us PA’ Grants to Combat Sexual AssaultGovernor Wolf’s Second Year: Progress on Schools, Jobs, and ReformGovernor and First Lady Wolf Invite Public to Attend 2016 Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting CeremonyWednesday, 11/30/16Governor Wolf Announces Mission Critical Solutions Manufacturing Expansion and New Job Creation in Bedford CountyThursday, 12/2/16Governor Wolf Announces Federal Disaster Funding for October FloodingHighlights from The BlogRecapping a Year of Historic Liquor Reform in Pennsylvania (VIDEO)From the Wolf Family Recipe Box: A Traditional Apple CrispKeep Yourself and Emergency Responders Safe This Holiday Travel SeasonA Thanksgiving Greeting from Our Family to YoursPennsylvania Has Your BackSupport Local Small Businesses by Shopping Small TomorrowGovernor Wolf Announces Investment in Infrastructure and Job Creation at Port of Philadelphia (Round-Up)Get Out, Give a Hand on Giving TuesdayHow Pennsylvania Certifies the Vote After Every ElectionGovernor Wolf Announces ‘It’s On Us PA’ Grants to Combat College Campus Sexual Assault (Round-Up)Responding to Senate Republicans Regarding Call Center ClosingsGovernor Wolf to Make Donations, Volunteer in Lieu of Attending Pennsylvania SocietyHighlight from TwitterGovernor Wolf: “To those who are worried or unsure, I want you to know that Pennsylvania has your back.”— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) November 23, 2016 By: The Office of Governor Tom Wolf Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Governor Wolf’s Week, November 20 – December 3, 2016 SHARE Email Facebook Twitterlast_img read more

PA Office of Advocacy and Reform, PA Attorney General’s Office Team Up to Launch PA Trauma-Informed Network

first_img Press Release,  Public Health As a companion to the Trauma-Informed PA plan released last week by Governor Tom Wolf’s Office to guide the commonwealth and service providers statewide on what it means to be trauma-informed and healing-centered in PA, the Office of Advocacy and Reform (OAR) and the PA Attorney General’s Office have worked with over a dozen community-based ACEs and trauma initiatives to launch the “PA Trauma-Informed Network” on the ACEs Connection Platform.“There was a clear emphasis on building grass roots support and empowering people at the local level among the PA Trauma-Informed Think Tank members that mirrored my experiences with successful anti-poverty work over the years,” said Dan Jurman, the Executive Director of OAR. “When we saw what the Attorney General’s office had been working on, it was a no brainer to throw our support behind the great work.”The Network is one of the recommendations in the Trauma-Informed PA plan to connect ACEs and trauma-informed coalitions and movements in counties and communities across Pennsylvania, as well as organizations and individuals interested in building them.The Network will help connect all of Pennsylvania’s existing and future trauma-informed coalitions by sharing best-practices and lessons learned, and the resources to help people heal from and prevent trauma. The work on this initiative began in 2017 with the Attorney General’s Office under the leadership of Attorney General Josh Shapiro with the assistance of Robert Reed, Executive Deputy Attorney General in charge of Special Initiatives, and was reinforced by the Trauma-Informed PA Think Tank and OAR this summer.“This network will serve as an invaluable tool to bolster existing trauma-informed coalitions and create new ones with a more well-rounded representation of all parties crucial to success including education, health, human services, law enforcement and criminal justice, among others,” said Reed.Current counties/localities whose ACEs and trauma initiatives have linked to the PA Trauma-Informed Network page include:ChesterDelawareErieCrawfordCumberland, Franklin, and Perry (South Central PA)LancasterLehigh, Northampton and Carbon (Lehigh Valley)Montgomery County (Pottstown)PhiladelphiaIndividuals or organizations interested in learning more or building their own initiative to connect to the network should go to August 03, 2020 PA Office of Advocacy and Reform, PA Attorney General’s Office Team Up to Launch PA Trauma-Informed Networkcenter_img SHARE Email Facebook Twitterlast_img read more

Sirius hopes to spud Ororo-2 well in 4Q 2018 as rig maintenance drags on

first_imgSirius Petroleum, the Nigeria-focused oil and gas development and production company, is working towards achieving spudding of the Ororo-2 well in the fourth quarter of 2018.The company said on Friday that the COSL Force jack-up rig, contracted for the Ororo-2 drilling, was undergoing an extensive maintenance program under a recertification process conducted by COSL on station in Dubai.The program includes the examination of all major drilling equipment items and systems as well as repairs where necessary. The major systems include main engines, top drive, hoisting equipment, mud pumps, and the blow out preventer.At the moment, Sirius is waiting for the completion of maintenance which has taken significantly longer than originally envisaged since the drilling of the Ororo-2 well was supposed to begin back in April.According to the company, it is at an advanced stage of concluding its rig requirements in order to achieve spudding of Ororo-2 in Q4 2018.COSL decided to use the COSL Force jack-up rig back in March 2018, although that was not the first choice. The initial pick for the Ororo drilling campaign was the COSL Power jack-up, selected in May 2017. At the time, the COSL Force was described as being “ready to be mobilized to Nigeria shortly.”Also, Sirius amended terms for the COSL Force, extending the initial program to cover both the Ororo-2 and Ororo-3 wells for a lump sum of $9 million on the assumption that the duration of the work will not exceed 90 days. If the duration of the work exceeds that period, daily rates will apply.Sirius gained a 40% economic interest in the Ororo field through a joint operating agreement from August 2017. Its partners are Owena Oil & Gas and Guarantee Petroleum, who own 27% and 33%, respectively.last_img read more

Umar Sadiq: Man U interest is ‘no accident’

first_imgRangers flop Umar Sadiq has insisted that it’s “no accident” that he is being tracked by Manchester United.The Nigerian bombed at Ibrox with just four appearances under his belt and no goals during his time on loan from Roma. After having departed the Glasgow outfit and then the Italians, Sadiq has rebuilt his career at Partizan Belgrade.So much so that Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has reportedly had the striker watched as recently as last week with a move to a potential bid after he scored 17 goals in 35 games for the Serbians this term.Sadiq, though, reckons he has merited the interest from the Premier League giants after a good campaign.“Manchester United’s interest is a big compliment for me as a player,” he told Belgrade daily Republika.“But, believe me, nothing is accidental. “Partizan have helped me a lot in my career.“I found my way, and now I just follow what they ask of me.“I think this is just the beginning of my success, and the motivation is there.“We work thoroughly before every game.“We don’t only talk about tactics and video analysis, but also human relationships. “Whether it’s the manager, Savo Milosevic, or someone else from the coaching staff, they are always there for us.“As for United, I think they were surprised by how we played against them in Belgrade.“They put out their best team, which tells you how much respect they had.”According to reports, AC Milan are also being linked with a potential move.RelatedPosts Ighalo: My best moment as ‘Red Devil’ EPL: Crystal Palace stun sloppy Man U EPL: Red Devils attack Palace He is under contract until 2022 at Partizan.Tags: Manchester UnitedPartizan BelgradeRangersUmar Sadiqlast_img read more

Suarez is carrying Liverpool – AVB

first_imgTottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas believes Liverpool have been carried by the superb form of Luis Suarez this season. Villas-Boas knows the chances of extending Spurs’ run of 12 unbeaten Barclays Premier League matches will largely depend on whether they can shackle Liverpool’s prolific hitman when the teams meet on Sunday. Although Villas-Boas has his own prolific talisman in Gareth Bale, the Portuguese said: “(Suarez) is a tremendous player. He is making the difference. (He is) a top player and is taking almost the team on his shoulders with his goal-scoring ability.” Press Associationcenter_img Villas-Boas added: “He is someone we must be wary of. He had a tremendous game at White Hart Lane and we have to be careful with his strengths.” Liverpool are 10 points off the Champions League places, but they would be far worse off had they been without their Uruguayan striker, who tops the scoring charts with 28 goals in 38 games in all competitions. Along with Manchester United’s Robin van Persie, Bale and Suarez are the leading contenders for the PFA Player of the Year award, which is announced next month. As has been the case with Liverpool and Suarez, Bale’s superb efforts this year have led to claims that Spurs are overly-reliant on their star forward, who has scored 21 goals. Tottenham’s former Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Friedel denies that is the case, though. “That’s ridiculous. That’s a poor comment,” said an angry Friedel, who spent three years at Liverpool when he first came to England. “Gareth is an exceptional player and we have a lot of exceptional players. “These comments about one-man teams… I mean, people talk about if Barcelona didn’t have Lionel Messi they wouldn’t have 40 goals but they do have Messi and they get the 40 goals. “Real Madrid have Cristiano Ronaldo. We have Gareth Bale. If Chicago Bulls didn’t have Michael Jordan they wouldn’t have won all those championships, but they did so they won. “Every good team has their star players. Gareth is playing well for us. We are a better team for it, but we have some exceptional players that can step in and do the job.” last_img read more

Rory McIlroy is confident of keeping hold of world number one spot

first_imgRory McIlroy is confident of winning more tournaments this year and retaining his newly-reclaimed world number one status. Press Association Day has now taken that place from him but Spieth says he is not motivated by any rivalry with the Australian or McIlroy. He said: “I think we are all focused on our own goals. As one, two and three in the world we are the three that have to beat each other right now in order to get to the top or remain at the top. “But I am not focused on what either are doing on the leaderboard unless they are in the lead, and then it is how I get up there and surpass them.” Day may have earned plenty of plaudits in recent weeks but he does not feel he has done enough to earn the world number one spot yet. He said: ” I am playing good golf right now but with Rory coming back and Jordan, I can’t say that I am. It wouldn’t feel right. The average is there for a reason. I have just got to keep playing well.” The Northern Irishman returned to top spot last week, despite not playing, as the man who recently replaced him, Masters and US Open winner Jordan Spieth, missed the cut at The Barclays. But McIlroy, who won two majors last year, knows Spieth and US PGA Championship winner Jason Day are right behind him heading into this week’s Deutsche Bank Open in Boston. McIlroy said: “I feel I am holding this ranking based on what I did last year but hopefully I can get another couple of wins before the end of the year and I feel I am playing well enough to do that.” Day is now the game’s form player having followed up his PGA success by winning The Barclays, the first event of the FedEx Cup play-off series. McIlroy feels there is very little to choose between them and believes the competition will force standards higher. Any of the three could be number one by the end of the week’s events in Boston. McIlroy said: “I feel we are pretty close. I feel the level I played at last year, they saw that and attained that. “It is about trying to set that bar a bit higher each year. That is probably what we will see over the next few years if guys keep pushing each other.” McIlroy is still easing himself back into action after the ankle ligament injury suffered playing football with friends in the summer that cost him the chance of defending his Open Championship title. The 26-year-old said: “I am feeling good. I had a couple of weeks off after the PGA, just taking it nice and slowly and being patient with it. But I am excited to be back and feel my game is in good shape.” Spieth had also been leading the PGA Tour’s FedExCup standings prior to last week’s rare failure. last_img read more

El Clasico Decides La Liga Title

first_imgEach time Real Madrid and Barcelona battle, the football world always stands at its feet. To add special spice to Sunday’s encounter between the two Spanish giants is the fact that the game may decide where the La Liga title swings. A victory for the Madrid would extend their lead on the log to six points with a game in hand and put them in good stead to the title, while a loss would ensure Barca keep on the pressure on the leaders. The Los Blancos would however be boosted by their semi-final qualification in the UEFA Champions League, while pressure is on the Blaugrana after their exit midweek from the European elite competitionAfter sealing their place in the Champions League semifinal, Real Madrid can take a huge step towards claiming a first La Liga title in five years when they host rivals Barcelona in El Clasico on Sunday.An injury-time Sergio Ramos equaliser ensured Madrid maintained a six-point cushion over Luis Enrique’s side when the sides met earlier this season, and with Los Blancos currently three points ahead with a game in hand, victory would leave Barca trailing by the same margin with only five to play. Real are unbeaten since February, winning 10 of their last 12 games. In contrast, Barcelona have won just two of their previous five in all competitions and were dumped out of Europe in midweek.The Catalans’ task is made all the more difficult given forward Neymar’s suspension. But Barca coach Luis Enrique insisted after their 3-0 aggregate defeat by Juventus that his side would be ready to bounce straight back up.“It will be difficult to lift my players up after this, but it will be easy to motivate them. We have the best stimulus that any Barcelona fan could ask for which is that we play against our eternal rival. There’s no better place to go than the Bernabeu.“We have the chance to get back in the fight for La Liga in a six-pointer against the side top of the league. I love being involved at a club as ambitious as this.”Madrid will be looking to a rejuvenated Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored five in his last two appearances and netted his 100th Champion League goal with a hat-trick against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.The Portuguese scored the goal that essentially sealed Madrid’s last La Liga crown in 2012’s 2-1 victory over the Catalans and will be looking to repeat the feat for Zinedine Zidane’s men this weekend.“I don’t know if there’s a category for him. What you see Cristiano doing is really impressive. The goals, the way he finishes them, in such key, important moments,” said Zidane of the No 7.“He always knows when there’s an important occasion, he’s going to be there. It is out of any sort of category. There are few players who can to do what Ronaldo has done and we all know that.”Madrid will be without defenders Pepe and Raphael Varane for the game, while Dani Carvajal, Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale all have question marks over their fitness heading into the game.Meanwhile, Lionel Messi will be requiring two more goals to reach 500 for Barcelona and will have his sights set on achieving the milestone against Madrid in Sunday’s Clasico.It is almost 12 years to the day since the diminutive Argentine netted his first, against Albacete in the Camp Nou, and there could not be a better time to bring up the magic number, particularly in a week that began with his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo netting a record 100th Champions League goal.Former teammate, Ronaldinho is backing Messi to return to his best. “It’s a wonderful story. He’s on the verge of 500 goals for the club and my pass set up the first of them,” Ronaldinho said. “He’s a great man. It’s wonderful to see everything he’s achieved – and he still has lots left to give.”The Brazilian’s words will be put to the test this weekend as, in the absence of the suspended Neymar, the focus on Messi will be even more intense. The Argentine will need to be at his brilliant best if Barca are to overcome Zinedine Zidane’s in-form side.Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid will look to further tighten their grip on third place as they travel to Espanyol today, while the weekend’s action culminates on Monday with a Basque derby as Eibar host Athletic Bilbao.   Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

Football Sponsorship: The Lokosa Example in NPFL

first_imgFirst, he went for trials in Asia, with a Chinese club and Europe (Bulgarian and Norway) but failed to secure any concrete contract. Then came a major breakthrough when the current African champions, Esperance Sportive de Tunis, decided to give Lokosa a chance.The Tunisian club offered him a two-and-a-half-year contract on January 14, 2019.“It was only after the Eunisell Boot was awarded to me, along with all the publicity that my career turned around,” Lokosa stated, while speaking on how Eunisell’s involvement helped to boost his career.And even though he has just spent barely a month with the prestigious Tunisia giants, his exposure has opened his eyes to the positive impact big business can have on the “Beautiful Game”.Lokosa now believes that with more sponsors emulating Eunisell, clubs and players will be the major beneficiaries, and the standard of the game will improve across the country.The role and benefits of the private sector cannot be over emphasised in the growth of the world’s most popular sports in Nigeria.However, he is not the only one with this view as stakeholders are also of the opinion that private participation in football is non-negotiable as without it, the game will continue to go round in circles with no real progress.Highlighting some of these benefits, China Acheru, a broadcaster and former spokesman of Dolphins FC (now Rivers United) reiterated this posits.According to him, the private sector brings a different feel to how football/sports are run, adding that there is more accountability, better financial management and better planning and ultimately a better product for the fans to enjoy.Acheru decried what he described as “the overbearing hands of government on football,” as what presently obtains. This, according to him must be reduced.“There is a saying that goes, government money is free money, and that is probably why state-owned football units are run without accountability or checks and balances.“As the Nigeria Professional Football League currently is, there are FC Ifeanyi Ubah, Remo Stars, Kada City, MFM and Go Round FC. One side of the coin is owning football clubs and bringing about professionalism in the way these clubs are run and the other is collectively affecting the growth of football.“The private participation brings a sense of organisation/responsibility and attention to details. These hardly exist in the current setting.“Nigerian football actually needs the private sector to grow and they must come in form of financiers and managers of the game.“But for the private sector to come in and effectively help in the development of football, the game must truly be private,” he said.Acheru also added that with the private sector, the structure of these football clubs will be more visible. A well-run football club means development from the grassroots to the pro-ranks.On sponsorship, he added: “The NFF is about football development but the norm, especially in Nigeria, is that the federation sits back, waits for government money, then organise the FA Cup in respective states.“Financial partners are major decision makers as far as the products the sponsor are concerned. The right people putting their money in football can decide how they want the game run.This means funds are available for the FAs to really fulfill their role of development of football from the grassroots.”Also speaking specifically on how private partners can come in to ensure this development takes place, Harry Iwuala, Head Special Projects, League Management Company (LMC), the firm that oversees the running of the professional league in the country, pointed out that private participation in football development comes in many variants.“In league football, there’s private participation by way of club ownership/part ownership, there’s also participation by ownership of facilities such as we see with Rojenny, Power Mike Sports Centre and so on; and you also have participation by ownership of broadcast facilities which is provided for production and distribution of match broadcast signals.“In broader terms, private participation is viewed from sponsorship and partnership with rights owners such as title rights/category exclusivity, club shirts, stadium naming rights, broadcast sponsorship and partnership as well as vending rights.“At the end of the day, football development can only come about when there is funding to hire staff (playing, technical and backroom), build facilities (playing fields, training gyms, equipment etc.).“The chief objective of sponsorship and partnerships is to generate revenue to drive the business of football and at the end, make profit. In Nigeria and elsewhere, private participation is desired either in ownership of clubs and facilities to reduce government influence and in sponsorship to generate fund to run quality competition and reward for players.”Highlighting the impact of sponsorship on Tunisian football, Lokosa said: “Esperance is a big brand backed by several sponsors across diverse sectors of the Tunisian economy such as automobile, hospitality and the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry.”The 25-year-old noted that global brands have now turned to football’s top stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to boost their marketing strategies, adding that companies in Nigeria can also emulate this act, to advance a sport that brings joy to the heart of many people in the country.A very good example of the impact of sponsorship on football is the popular English Premier League, which has been elevated to a global behemoth in no small measure to the money put into it by Sky Sports.Only last year the satellite broadcast company splashed a staggering £3.58 billion (N1, 682,600,000,000) for a three-year deal to broadcast the league around the world.From this amount, the 20 clubs in the elite league shared £2.42 billion (N 1,137,400,000,000) from the TV sponsorship deal. And because of this enormous sponsorship fee, the clubs are able to use the money to attract some of the best players to the Premier League because of the huge salaries they can offer them from their share of the billions.For instance Manchester United was able to land Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal by offering him wages of £350, 000 a week, far above what the Gunners offered him.So while we are not expecting the NPFL to become a trillion naira business over night the earlier the private sector join the bandwagon the sooner they and football fans will enjoy the fallout from the mutually benefitting partnershipShare this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Junior Lokosa training with his Esperance teammates in Tunisia When Junior Lokosa picked up the first ever Eunisell Boot Award, for emerging the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL’s) 2017/18 season highest goal scorer with 19 goals, the then Kano Pillars FC hitman not envisage the career-defining boost it would have on him in the next couple of months.For his performance in Nigeria’s top football league, the 25-year-old was presented with a glittering trophy and a cheque for N3.8million from one of the nation’s foremost chemical and specialty fluid management companies.The publicity and media hype he got from achieving this feat reverberated beyond the shores of the ‘Giant of Africa’ catching the attention of international clubs.last_img read more

Trojans prepare for difficult non-conference match

first_imgEnding the team’s longest losing streak of the season, the men’s volleyball team got back to its winning ways last week against UC San Diego. The Trojans (10-5, 9-5 MPSF) take on Penn State today and look to start a winning streak.On March 4, the Trojans took down UC San Diego (1-14, 0-11) in three sets. The Trojans won by a score of 25-19, 25-13, 25-16. Junior opposite Josh Kirchner, in his return from a two-game absence because of an ankle injury, led the team in kills with 11. Kirchner also led the match with five blocks. Senior middle blocker Robert Feathers added nine kills, and senior setter Micah Christenson had three aces along with five digs.The Trojans’ hitting percentage for the night was .427 compared to UCSD’s hitting percentage of .072. The Trojans also had six total aces while the Tritons only had one.While the Trojans took care of business against the Tritons, the last-place team in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference, the Trojans had much more trouble with the rest of the MPSF the last two weeks.After starting the season 7-0 and 6-0 in MPSF play, the Trojans best overall start to a season since 1991, the team started to hit some bumps in the road. USC dropped its first match of the season at Hawai’i and rebounded with wins against Hawai’i and BYU, but then began the four-match losing streak.After beating BYU in the first match of two matches at home, the Trojans fell to the Cougars in four sets. The Trojans then suffered surprise losses at UC Santa Barbara then and UCLA. The Trojans fell in straight sets to the Gauchos then lost in four sets to the crosstown rival Bruins. In addition to Kirchner’s absence due to an ankle injury, Christenson had to sit out against UCLA due to an acute sinus infection.The Trojans returned home on March 3, to host UC Irvine. The Trojans had previously taken down the Anteaters at UC Irvine this season in five sets, but the Anteaters would return the favor at the Galen Center. The Trojans took the first two sets against UC Irvine, but the Anteaters would take the next three and ultimately win the five-set match. The final score was 20-25, 18-25, 25-19, 25-17, 15-13.Head coach Bill Ferguson gave a lot of credit to the Anteaters, specifically UC Irvine’s opposite Zack La Cavera, but said the Trojans did seem to fade down the stretch.“They did a better job passing the ball,” Ferguson said. “We were putting a ton of pressure on them early from the service line. I don’t know if they got better or if we were just less than ourselves from the line as the match went on, but there were parts of that game where we were playing great volleyball. We just couldn’t do it long enough.”The loss marked the second time this season the Trojans had lost in five sets, the previous one being the Trojans’ first loss of the season at Hawai’i. In both        five-set losses, the Trojans won the first two sets but could not close out in the final three.Coming into this week, the Trojans sit in fifth place in the MPSF standings. Ahead of the Trojans are UC Irvine, Hawai’i, BYU and Pepperdine. The Trojans have split with UC Irvine, Hawai’i and BYU this season. Five of the Trojans’ six matches against the top three teams have gone to the maximum five sets, the lone exception being the Trojans’  four-set loss to BYU. The Trojans also took down Pepperdine in four sets at home earlier this year.While Ferguson said the losing streak was certainly a rough patch for the team, he believes the toughest part of the schedule is now behind the Trojans. With the exception of one remaining trip to Pepperdine later in March, all of the Trojans’ remaining eight MPSF matches are against teams below the Trojans in the conference standings.“We have one match against Pepperdine and that’s it with the top five teams in the league,” he said. “We’re done with everybody, and none of those other teams have played each other yet. In the grand scheme of things, we’re okay.”The Trojans need to finish in the top eight of the 12-team conference to qualify for the MPSF tournament and compete for the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Ferguson said if the team can avenge losses against UC Santa Barbara and UCLA down the road, the team should be in a good spot at the end of the season.“We need to hold serve and take care of business at home against UCLA and UC Santa Barbara,” he said.Before resuming the battle through the MPSF, however, the Trojans will have two                         non-conference matches this week. After the Nittany Lions (6-9, 4-0) visit USC today, the Trojans will host Lindenwood  (5-6, 2-5) on Thursday.The Nittany Lions hail from the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association while Lindenwood represents the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association. Penn State qualified for the NCAA tournament last year as the EIVA conference champions, while Lindenwood did not make the tournament.The Trojans take on Penn State at the Galen Center tonight at 7:30 p.m.last_img read more