Christoph Reinhart is from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Associate Professor of Architectural Technology and the leader of Harvard’s Sustainable Design Research InitiativeDecember 8, 2011
Ending 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.