USC looks for momentum against conference foes

first_imgEven with a playoff spot assured, the USC men’s volleyball team isn’t taking the last two games of the regular season lightly.Rather, the No. 6 Trojans know that wins at No. 14 UC San Diego and No. 10 Long Beach State this weekend would give them a huge boost as they head into the postseason. USC beat both teams 3-0 in January.“We’re looking to primarily have good momentum heading into this new season,” USC coach Bill Ferguson said. “I told the guys, ‘How would finishing 5-1 at the end of the season feel instead of 2-4?’ — not to harp on a year that might have happened a year before this one.”Ferguson is referencing last year, when the Trojans finished the season winning only two of their last six games but ended up playing in the national championship match. Despite that, the Trojans are focusing on the present.USC (14-10, 11-9) is playing for the sixth or seventh seed in the eight-team MPSF tournament that starts next weekend. The Trojans can get the sixth seed with a win or a UCLA loss this weekend. But if the Bruins win out and USC loses both its games, it will finish in seventh.Either way, that means the Trojans will have to go on the road to play the first round, and they are using these road games to prepare themselves for that.“We just want to really clean things up and get to the point where we can build momentum for ourselves for the playoffs,” said Murphy Troy, junior and opposite hitter. “We know we’re going to have to go on the road [during the playoffs], and we want to start the playoffs on the right foot. That means ending the regular season on the right foot.”The Trojans had a tougher time than expected last weekend, having to go five sets in a win against Pacific and then losing in three sets to No. 1 Stanford in a game that was closer than the score indicated, was the absence of injured starting junior libero Tri Bourne.Bourne broke his left thumb a week and a half ago in practice and hasn’t played since. Ferguson listed him as day-to-day, and he has slowly been building up his practice time. In his place, Ferguson used junior outside hitter Sean Dennis and senior outside hitter Tyler Stevens, both of whom Ferguson praised as doing a solid job, but the team knows it is missing a key element in Bourne.“Whenever you’re changing the lineup around at all, you got to expect some inconsistencies, and that’s what we experienced this past weekend,” Troy said.Dennis started 17 games for the Trojans last year, and Stevens has three years of experience on the team, so Ferguson knows he has capable players ready to go if Bourne can’t play.“We’re going to wait and see. Tri has been practicing. Tyler and Sean have been practicing and playing outside,” Ferguson said. “We’re prepared for what the situation may be but we just don’t know. We’re going to have to see how the bone heals and how much pain [Bourne] can tolerate.”last_img read more

Miranda Ramirez’s 12-match win streak snapped as SU falls, 5-2, to No. 27 North Carolina State

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 7, 2017 at 8:16 pm Contact Andrew: | @A_E_Graham It had been 75 days since Miranda Ramirez hadn’t scored the final point in her singles match. The freshman entered Friday rolling on a 12-match win streak — two shy of tying the Syracuse single-season record —  dating back to Jan. 22. But against No. 27 North Carolina State, Ramirez’s near-historic roll terminated.Since the last time Ramirez lost, she even became ranked, checking in at No. 79 in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.“In tennis, sometimes one point here and there makes the difference,” SU head coach Younes Limam said, “and I think that’s what happened today.”The loss in three sets in No. 1 singles for Ramirez, 3-6, 6-4, 5-7, was a major stumble for Syracuse (6-10, 3-6 Atlantic Coast) as it fell, 5-2, to No. 27 N.C. State (17-7, 6-5) at Drumlins Country Club on Friday. After getting dismantled by the No. 15 doubles pairing of Martina Frantova and Anna Rogers, Ramirez faced No. 59 Frantova again. An emotional and mistake-filled match ensued, with Frantova edging a victory.A stagnant 6-2 loss in No. 1 doubles quickly turned into a dreary No. 1 singles first set for Ramirez. Straying into the unfamiliar territory of trailing, she dropped her first set, 6-3. The normally even-keeled Ramirez knew she needed to change something to get going, and that’s when she let her emotions bleed.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEarly in the second set it was frustration. When Frantova won a game to tie the second set, 1-1, Ramirez thwacked her racket onto the court as she looked down in disgust. A missed shot or poorly placed volley had Ramirez running her free hand over her brow, muttering to herself.“I can’t believe I missed that,” Ramirez said on the court.Even Frantova let emotions fly. Down 4-3 in the second set, she dropped a point that tied the game, 30-all. Frantova had originally called it out, but the umpire overruled her. Frantova retorted with a few choice words and was assessed a penalty, giving Ramirez a 40-30 lead.But the fracas only fueled Frantova, who went on and won the game anyways, tying the set, 4-4.“I think it’s just because it was a much tougher match,” Ramirez said. “… I was trying to get myself into it.”Codie Yan | Staff PhotographerRamirez looked off from the opening serve. A few nagging injuries — including some skin ripped off by athletic tape on her right foot — hindered her from feeling fully comfortable. As a result, shots went long, first serves carried wide and drop shots were smothered by the net. The spike in unforced errors took a visible toll on Ramirez, as she began to look more dejected with every miscue.Even with the uncharacteristic errors and emotions, Ramirez strung important games together in the third set, taking a 5-2 lead. But Frantova chipped away at Ramirez’s lead, eventually taking the lead, 6-5.Facing match point, Ramirez fired a return into the net, and the streak was over.“We all lose and win,” Ramirez’s doubles partner, sophomore Gabriela Knutson, said. “We all accept our losses.”In the aftermath of Ramirez’s most crucial miscue, the freshman slammed a ball into the green tarp behind the court as Frantova screamed on the other side of the net. All of the emotion had finally boiled over.“Ultimately,” Ramirez said, “I’m just going to go back to the practice court and forget about this the best I can.” Commentslast_img read more

Raptors players discuss Kawhi Leonard’s impending free agency

first_imgThe Raptors acquired Leonard — along with Danny Green — from the Spurs for a package centered around DeMar DeRozan in a blockbuster trade last offseason. Green will also be a free agent this summer and said he’d like to return to Toronto. But, he said Leonard’s decision will have an impact on his.”He can change a whole organization,” Green said. NBA Finals 2019: Raptors’ Kyle Lowry drew on experience to win ‘surreal’ title Kawhi Leonard free agency rumors: Lakers ‘will pursue’ star this summer 🌟 Kawhi Leonard’s TOP 5 PLAYS from the 2019 #NBAPlayoffs! #WeTheNorth 🌟— NBA (@NBA) June 16, 2019Leonard was named the Finals MVP after Toronto topped the Warriors in six games.“I think that for us, at least speaking for myself, there’s nothing more that we can do,” Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said about Leonard, via TSN. “We’ve done it, the city’s done it, the coaches have done it, the teammates have done it. We’ve done our job. The best way to recruit somebody is to just be yourself over the course of the year.” Related News The Raptors do not want to lose Kawhi Leonard.The 27-year-old star will enter free agency coming off of one of the best postseason runs ever. He led the Raptors to their first championship in franchise history by averaging 30.5 points and 9.1 rebounds while shooting 49% from the field in 24 playoff games. The Clippers will chase Leonard this offseason and rival executives believe he “likes” the team, according to an earlier report from Bleacher Report. He also will consider re-signing with the Raptors, according to ESPN, while the Knicks and Lakers will reportedly pursue him, as well.“I would assume that he knows what is here and what makes this place special,” VanVleet said. “And, if it’s enough it’ll be enough and if it’s not then it’s not. So, it’s not the biggest deal in the world.“He came here and did what he was supposed to do. He brought this city a championship and I think he’s earned his freedom in his career to do what he wants to do and we’ll all respect and admire him.”VanVleet on Kawhi’s free agency: “There’s nothing more we can do. We’ve done it, the city’s done it, this franchise has done it, the coaches have done it, his teammates have done it. We’ve done our job. I would assume he knows what is here and what makes this place special”— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) June 16, 2019Marc Gasol, who was sent from the Grizzlies to the Raptors at the deadline, praised Leonard when he met with reporters Sunday.”I don’t think there’s any other player of his caliber in the NBA right now,” Gasol said. “He’s on a pedestal by himself.” Three questions the Raptors will have to answer this offseasonlast_img read more