After upsetting two top 10 teams last week, the men’s volleyball team looks to feed off its first back-to-back victories of 2017 and defeat No. 11 Cal State Northridge and No. 2 Long Beach State on the road this week. The newly ranked No. 14 Trojans hope to take certain elements from both wins and duplicate them to continue their winning streak.“Well, the winning would be great to replicate,” head coach Jeff Nygaard said. “Our guys kept composure and kept challenging, which is one of the things I would love to move forward.”USC’s youth played a role in its early-season struggles. Having a young team can be difficult when going up against teams with four or five returning starters, but it was in the last two games that younger members like sophomore middle blocker Ryan Moss and sophomore outside hitter Woody Cook started to put up big numbers. With these players continuing to improve, the Trojans will look to continue contending against top-ranked teams.“It’s not like saying, ‘You can’t do this’ or ‘You don’t know how to do this,’” Nygaard said. “It is more of that they need to embody this and gain experience and apply these types of skills in real situations so that they just get more comfort and proficiency with them.”For all players, the best — and most obvious — way to increase confidence is by getting a win, and the Trojans had two last week. While they are not going to face these teams over-confidently, they will go in more sure of their system and their ability to produce wins over top teams.“It validates what we are doing,” Nygaard said. “Things that we get really good at at practice have to translate to how we perform on the court when the lights are on.”Even with this newfound confidence, neither of these matches is going to be easy for USC. Both teams boast strength, precision and consistency. The Trojans fell in three sets to Northridge in their last meeting, and with Long Beach State, USC is looking to repeat its victory from the two teams’ last meeting and hand the 49ers their second loss in conference play.“One of the challenges that Northridge brings is that they are a physical team,” Nygaard said. “If you allow them to get loose with their physicality, it is hard to bring them back down and control them.“Long Beach … was a top three team last year and they are basically the same team [this year]. They know how to play together. They are a strong volleyball team. They don’t have many weaknesses.”The Trojans will look to extend their upset-winning streak against two more favored opponents this week, with Cal State Northridge first up. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Matadome on Wednesday. Long Beach State comes next, with that match set to start at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Walter Pyramid.
Three Trojans — Gussie Johns and Kerrigan Miller of women’s lacrosse and Gabby Smith of women’s tennis — were honored as Players of the Week by their respective conferences after their play last week. Johns, a junior goaltender, was named MPSF Defensive Player of the Week, while Miller, a freshman midfielder, was named MPSF Rookie of the Week. Smith, a junior, also earned Pac-12 Player of the Week honors for the second time this season.Johns and Miller were recognized after their stellar play over the weekend, leading the No. 3 USC women’s lacrosse team (2-0) to a big 11-10 overtime win against rival No. 9 Northwestern.Johns, a junior goalie for the Trojans and current member of the U.S. Women’s National Team, made a handful of key stops against the Wildcats on Saturday, including a crucial one-on-one save early in the overtime period to keep USC’s winning hopes alive. The Washington, D.C. native led the nation in goals-against average last season (6.04) and has maintained that level of play in 2017. In the game against Northwestern, Johns recorded career-highs of 17 saves and eight ground balls to keep the Wildcats’ high-powered offense at bay. Those 17 saves (on 35 shots) accounted for the second most saves in a single game in USC history, while the eight ground balls tied the program record and was the third-highest total in MPSF conference history. The Defensive Player of the Week award is the third of Johns’ career and her fourth award overall.Miller, the top-ranked recruit in the country coming out of Bayport-Blue Point High School in Bayport, N.Y., has lived up to the billing in this early part of the 2017 season. In addition to scoring the first hat trick of her career on Saturday, the freshman midfielder caused three turnovers and recorded two ground balls and one draw control in addition to scoring the game-winning goal with just four seconds left in overtime. For her efforts, Miller was also named InsideLacrosse National Rookie of the Week. This marks the freshman’s first career MPSF weekly award, and she is the school’s first Rookie of the Week since Johns was selected in March of 2015.Johns, Miller and the rest of the Trojans will now head out east when they battle against No. 4 Florida in Gainesville, Fla. on Friday at 3:30 p.m.In addition, Gabby Smith, a junior on the women’s tennis team, earned her second Pac-12 Player of the Week honor this season after extending her winning streak to 10 straight matches over the weekend. The Henderson, Nev., native is currently ranked No. 25 in the nation in singles play after gutting out a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win against Terri Fleming of UCLA on Saturday.Smith has been USC’s most consistent contributor this spring, defeating five nationally ranked competitors over the course of the season. She is also currently ranked No. 47 nationally in doubles play with senior partner Zöe Katz. The nod is the third of Smith’s career all-time and her second weekly honor in 2017 after winning the same award on Jan. 23. Now, she and the rest of the Trojans will gear up for a big matchup against California in Berkeley, Calif. at noon on Saturday.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Order Of St George will be the star attraction in the Group 3 Palmerstown Irish St Leger Trial at the Curragh.That’s the feature race in a seven-race flat card that gets underway at 1.40pm.Meanwhile, the final day of the Killarney August festival will get going at 1.20 this afternoon.