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Micah and the Crew Ready for Battle

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No. 8 USC men's volleyball has a massive match against No. 6 BYU on Saturday night at 7 p.m. inside the Galen Center. The MPSF quarterfinal is the last chance for the Trojans to defend their home court this season, and their postseason lives hang in the balance.

Click here for tickets!

USC and BYU split two meetings this season back on February 12 and 13 in the same venue. The Trojans will be led by senior setter Micah Christenson, who was named All-MPSF first team this week for the second time in his career. He was joined on the conference honor roll by Robert Feathers, Alex Slaught, Andy Benesh and Larry Tuileta (all pictured below).

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Stan the Man at Pac-12 Tennis

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The Pac-12 Tennis Championships are underway in Ojai as the women battle for individual supremacy, while the men compete in a team tournament. Plus, USC legend Stan Smith is the honorary guest 51 years after winning his first Ojai title.

Click here for a Q&A catching up with Smith.

Smith first won at Ojai as a high schooler in 1964, and then picked up the Men's Open doubles crown in 1965. While at USC, he collected the Collegiate Singles Championship from 1966-68 as well as the doubles in 1966 and 1967. He would go on to win the 1971 U.S. Open and 1972 Wimbledon (pictured).

The current Trojans are focused on hardware of their own. Giuliana Olmos and Zoe Scandalis advanced to the singles quarterfinals, while the men got a bye into the team semifinals, where they will play UCLA (today at 3 p.m.).

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USC MEGABOWL

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No. 8 USC men's volleyball has branded its MPSF quarterfinal against No. 6 BYU "The MegaBowl," a reference to Semi-Pro starring famed alum Will Ferrell. The fourth-seeded Trojans need the win to keep their NCAA hopes alive, so they are looking for a raucous crowd to enter Galen Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday night.

Click here for tickets!!

Here is a preview from senior captain Chris Lischke, freshman Larry Tuileta and junior Brooks Varni:


Strong Future

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

Last week, USC track & field added Matt Katnik, the national high school leader in shot put, to its 2015 recruiting class. As a senior at St. John Bosco this year, Katnik recorded a personal best of 71-3.5 in the event at the 2015 Arcadia Invitational. The throw is just the third in California history over 70 feet.

Click here for more.

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Trojans in Business: Pieter Kranenburg

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor
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Name: Pieter Kranenburg

Resume: Spacecraft Flight Engineer at Boeing

Sport at USC: Swimming & Diving

Caroline Deisley (CD): First and foremost, can you explain what exactly you do?

Pieter Kranenburg (PK): (chuckles) It's an intense title. I am a spacecraft flight engineer at Boeing Satellite Development Center over in El Segundo. What that basically means is that I am in charge of flying spacecrafts that we build on site from the moment we launch them into space until the moment that we decommission them. My main responsibility is what's called on-orbit support which means keeping everything running smoothly and making sure all the equipment on board is working. If something breaks, we fix it or do the best we can down from the ground. I also do mission support, which is basically the first couple of weeks after you launch a spacecraft. You make sure that it is configured right and doing what it's supposed to do before we hand it over to the customer. 

CD: Wow that's fascinating. So what first sparked your interest in aerospace?

PK: I guess it's rooted back in high school. Math and science were just something that I was good at, and I'm a competitive guy so I picked the hardest-sounding thing to me at the time and went from there. As I went along, I found that I really enjoyed the subjects and it appealed to both my competitive and intellectual sides at the same time. 

CD: How hard was it to manage both the workload of an engineering major and be a competitive swimmer at USC?

PK: Being an engineer and being an athlete, specifically on the swim team, is not to be underestimated (chuckles). It's probably one of the toughest things I could have done in my experience at 'SC. I tell that to all the guys on the team, and I tell anyone that is doing it on any team, that I have a lot of respect for them because it's a lot of work. There are some engineering students who can't even handle being just an engineering student. It was tough and there were even some people that tried to do engineering and swimming before me and told me that it is just not doable. I guess I tried to break new ground and kids that are on the team now have seen that. It's not just myself, but I have a couple of classmates who were great engineers as well. We broke through in making the USC swim team also successful academically. 

CD: Was there ever any crossover that you noticed in engineering and swimming that helped you get where you are now?

PK: Yes. I really give all my success to anything that I do nowadays to swimming. I swam for 16 years and those 16 years were dedicated to one goal - to swim faster, touching the walls sooner than I did last time, etc. After so many years of doing that, you realize that there is a lot that goes into accomplishing that one goal. It really just built a framework of success that I've used now in engineering and the industry to really streamline my goals and what I need to do. You can get lost in the industry and get really spread thin. Swimming creates a process, and it gives you confidence that the process is working even without seeing direct results.  

CD: You mentioned a little bit about the course load, but maybe what was the one hardest part for you about balancing everything? 

PK: The hardest part really is time management - that's what it comes down to. There are only so many hours in the day. You're training 20 hours a week and then you've got five classes with some of them being more taxing than others. I remember junior year we have the class that weeds out all the people that aren't quite cut out to be engineers. It's a lab class and every week you have a lab and a report due on that lab the next week. I want to say that was minimum 15 hours a week just for that one class. If you didn't get started on it ahead of time then you weren't going to have it done. It's not something you are going to be able to do a couple days before. You really had to chip at it for the whole week. So it was those sorts of things where you just have to take a step back at the beginning of the week and say what do I need to do and what fits in around my swimming training. Then, you also have to set aside some time for fun. 

CD: Were you able to help out on any other projects related to engineering outside of your workload and practices?

PK: I was actually. At USC, I was involved in the Rocket Lab and also another group called the Space Research Center. It was really tough. I tried to show my face as much as possible but it was hard to show up as much as I liked. When I retired from swimming, I took all the time that I was giving to swimming and put it into those extracurricular engineering groups. 

CD: What was the process like after you retired from swimming? How did you transition into the real world?

PK: It was definitely a tough but exciting transition for me. All of a sudden, I had 20 more hours a week plus all the energy, so it was even more than that. My first thought was 'Okay. Take advantage of this. Apply this energy somewhere else and you will do pretty cool stuff.' The week after I stopped swimming I went to these extracurricular groups and told them 'Alright, I'm done with swimming I'm going to be here X amount of hours a week' and they really responded to that. I really enjoyed being able to spend more time in those design groups. I think having a new sort of team and something that I could apply my energy to really eased the transition. 

CD: And now, what is the best part of your job would you say?

PK: The best part of my job besides telling people my title (chuckles)... I like taking a step back and looking at what we are actually building. I like going through the factory and looking around. You see all these three-story tall satellites that are just incredible feats of engineering and when you think about it we're this site of 5,000 imperfect people that have to create this perfect machine that operates up in space for 15 to 20 years. For me, seeing all that come together is pretty fun. 

CD: So it's early in your career but what's next? What's on the horizon? Where do you want to go from here?

PK: Short term, I will be getting my master's degree in May. I've been doing that at night after work so I'm really excited about that. I'm going to stick with Boeing and continue to fly satellites for the next little bit. Then, my brother and I have a couple of business ideas that we are going to try and tackle. Ideally, I would like to create a vision that other people want to jump on board with and have fun with. I told my friends early in the year that my dream job is to build something cool with my friends so maybe I'll jump on that later down the road. 

Trojan Huddle Dates and Stops

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The Trojan Huddle (formerly known as the Coaches Tour) hits the road this May and June for six dates throughout California, featuring USC football head coach Steve Sarkisian and men's basketball head coach Andy Enfield as well as special appearances by legendary head coach John Robinson, student-athletes and the Trojan Marching Band.

Click here to RSVP online!

Here are the dates and stops for the Trojan Huddle:

Wednesday, May 20 - Menlo Circus Club in Atherton

Tuesday, May 26 - Brian Kennedy Founders' Room in the Galen Center

Wednesday, May 27 - La Jolla Country Club in La Jolla

Friday, May 29 - Indian Wells Country Club in Indian Wells

Monday, June 8 - Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach

Wednesday, June 10 - Manhattan Beach Marriott in Manhattan Beach

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2015 NFL Draft Preview: Josh Shaw

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shaw.jpgThe NFL Draft is a week away. Until then, we will profile the Trojans most likely to hear their names called.

Josh Shaw's senior season did not go according to plan at USC, but he has erased those memories from scouts' minds by dominating the NFL Combine.

The NFL is in desperate need of big defensive backs to match up with all the tall receivers in the league, and the safety turned cornerback with 4.44 speed fits the billing. Shaw is well built at 6-foot and 201 pounds, cranking out 26 bench reps at the NFL Combine, which was five more than any other defensive back this year and the best performance since 2007.

On the field, he was USC's Defensive Perimeter Player of the Year in 2013, second on the team with four interceptions and third with 67 tackles. He started his college career at the University of Florida, transferring to Troy in 2012.

Bigger Prizes Ahead

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No. 1 USC women's tennis struggled through the Pac-12 Championships, finishing a surprising sixth in Boulder as Arizona took home the conference title. However, the Women of Troy did come home with some honors as juniors Annie Park and Kyung Kim (pictured) were named All-Pac-12 first team for the third consecutive year.

Click here for more.

Now, the Trojans turn their attention to the trophy that so narrowly eluded them last season. The reigning national runners-up will begin competition for the national championship at the NCAA Regional Championships, which begin May 7. Assuming they qualify, the NCAA Championships are May 22-27 in Bradenton, Florida.

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2015 NFL Draft Preview: Buck Allen

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allen.jpgThe NFL Draft is eight days away. Until then, we will profile the Trojans most likely to hear their names called.

Who will select the latest Trojan horse from Tailback U? Buck Allen is projected to be a mid-round pick after bursting onto the national landscape over the last year and a half.

Buried deep on USC's depth chart to start the 2013 season, Allen made the most of his chance when his number was finally called, scoring 27 touchdowns in his final 22 games at Troy. He was the Trojans leading rusher in each of the last two seasons, while also showing versatility as a receiver out of the backfield (63 catches for 710 yards and 2 TDs in 2013 and 2014 combined).

While this is a loaded class for running backs, Allen made an impression in the pre-draft process, posting a solid time in the 40-yard dash. Scouts like his size and his versatility because he is a true every down back.

Journey to the Call

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USC WR Nelson Agholor might need his cell phone on opening night of the NFL Draft. Initially projected as a second round pick, several recent mock drafts have moved the All-American all the way up to the Houston Texans slot at No. 16 or even as high as the Miami Dolphins at No. 14.

Either way, teams know what they are getting in Agholor, who was renowned for his work ethic at USC. In a new video profile by Verizon, the Nigerian born wide receiver explains the roots of his athleticism and drive.