Give the Princeton men credit. Coach Sam Schweisky schedules tough early and last year it paid off when the Tigers lost their first five matches but went on to win the EIVA and the NCAA Tournament bid that came with it.
This season, Princeton is at it again. The Tigers, ranked No. 10 in the AVCA preseason poll, opened the season by getting swept at UC Irvine on Sunday. Now they’re 0-2 after losing in five Thursday night at No, 12 USC.
Second-ranked UCLA started the season by helping a second-year program. The Bruins swept Daemen, an independent located in Amherst, New York, a suburb of Buffalo. UCLA was on its way back from playing in a Canadian exhibition series in nearby Toronto.
More matches are on tap for Friday as the NCAA men’s schedule continues to get under way in earnest.
Third-ranked BYU of the MPSF plays at Loyola, the MIVA team ranked No. 11, in Chicago, while the MPSF’s Stanford, ranked No. 7, is home for Menlo College, a small school from nearby Atherton, California.
Another MIVA team, No. Lewis, plays host to King of Conference Carolinas, which opened its Chicago swing with a four-set loss at Loyola on Thursday.
The Big West’s Hawai’i, the No. 1 preseason team, is home for Charleston of the EIVA.
And there’s one other match as the ConfCarolinas’ North Greenville goes to Urbana, a program located in Ohio.
USC tops Tigers: USC opened its season with a 25-22, 18-25, 25-23, 22-25, 15-10 win over Princeton as Brandon Browning had 15 kills and hit .429. Browning also had an assist, seven digs and a block.
Kyle Gear had 10 kills for the Trojans and added four aces, six digs and four blocks, one solo. Billy Fauntleroy had nine kills, an assist, an ace, three digs and a block. Max Beck added four kills and six blocks.
“That was one of the better birthday presents,” USC assistant coach Gary Sato said. “We learned a lot.
“We haven’t spent that much time together as a team out on the floor in pressure situations, so to see guys go out, come back in, and think like that, and the interaction of the team, the process, those are the good things that we learned.
“A bunch of the guys did some work over the summer, and in the off-season, the preseason, we call it, they’ve improved in lots of their different techniques.”
George Huhmann led Princeton with 23 kills and hit .318 to go with an assist, three aces, five digs and two blocks. Parker Dixon had eight kills.
USC hit .229 and had seven aces and 21 errors. Princeton hit .217 and had six aces and 21 errors.
Princeton now gets to go home and plays host to UCLA on Monday.
UCLA sweeps Daemen: The Bruins won 25-16, 25-16, 25-17 and did it with just 23 kills. Alex Knight led with six as he had one error in 12 attacks and hit .417. He added an assist, two aces, a block and a dig.
Daenan Gyimah had five kills with no errors in seven swings and hit .714 to go with two aces, four blocks and a digs.
UCLA hit .383 and had 12 aces — four by setter Mads Kyed Jensen — and 22 errors. Daemen hit minus .081 and had two aces, both by Zach Yerington, and had 17 service errors.
Before playing at Princeton, UCLA goes to George Mason of the EIVA on Saturday. Mason is the host site for the NCAA Championship in May.
Loyola beats King: The Ramblers opened their season with a four-set win over King.
Cole Schlothauer had 17 kills and hit .441 for Loyola to go with two assists, two aces and eight digs. Devin Joslyn had 12 kills, four aces, five digs and four blocks, one solo.
Loyola hit .293 and had seven aces and 11 errors. King hit .219 and had seven aces and 22 errors.
“It was awesome in that a bunch of guys got to play collegiate volleyball for the first time,” Loyola coach Mark Hulse said.
Joshua Kim led King with 16 kills, three digs and two blocks. Sean Kohlhase had nine kills, an assist, an ace and four digs.
Women’s coaching carousel: One place that won’t be spinning is Pittsburgh, where Dan Fisher signed a seven-year extension.
Fisher’s Panthers have won the ACC title the past three seasons and he’s 178-49 in seven years in the Steel City, 106-29 in the ACC. Pittsburgh finished 30-2 this season, losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Cincinnati …
Since we last reported on NCAA comings and goings, Ole Miss of the SEC hired Nebraska assistant Kayla Banwarth. The Olympic libero was on staff at her alma mater the past three seasons. She takes over a team that lost its last 12 matches in 2019 and graduates its two top players, Emily Stroup and Nayo Warnell …
McNeese State of the Southland Conference hired Kristee Porter, the former UCLA All-American and pro player, who was the 2012 NCAA player of the year. According to the McNeese news release she’s coached at Navarro, a junior college in Texas, Henderson State in Arkansas, and in 2012 she was an assistant at Colorado …
Eastern Illinois of the Ohio Valley Conference has hired Sara Thomas, who was an assistant at Missouri State the past two seasons. Thomas, who has also been a high school coach, takes over a program that finished 3-26 in 2019, 1-15 in the OVC …
At least 15 Division I openings remain, including the Big Ten’s Ohio State and Rutgers, the ACC’s NC State, and Auburn of the SEC.