The Trojans (5-0, 5-0) continued to show their outstanding attacking efficiency, finishing the first set with a blazing hot .625 hitting percentage and finishing the match with a .493 hitting percentage in comparison to the Gauchos’ (4-3, 2-2) .337.
Senior opposite and co-captain Murphy Troy led the charge with 12 kills, finishing with a remarkable .632 hitting percentage and no hitting errors.
Junior outside hitter Tony Ciarelli finished with nine kills and six digs.
“They had some good point runs in the second and third sets,” said USC coach Bill Ferguson. “They came off some quick spurts at the service line for them. It’s not much to worry about.”
Passing was deft, leading to a high number of opportunities to attack for the Trojans’ two talented middle blockers. Senior middle blocker Austin Zahn finished with seven kills on 11 attempts and junior middle blocker Steven Shandrick finished with seven kills on 10 attempts.
“I really liked that we ran them, and the both did really well,” Ferguson said. “Especially since Austin had a guy committed to him all night.”
Sophomore outside hitter Maddison McKibbin provided a huge block in the third set on Irons. He also had a key dig at the 22-20 mark in transition that gave the Trojans a three-point cushion.
“Maddy came in and did very well, and had a huge effect on two crucial points,” Ferguson said. “Our two-headed monster with [McKibbin] and [Senior outside hitter] Tri Bourne is huge.”
The Trojans also targeted Gauchos senior outside hitter Jeff Menzel in an effort to neutralize his offensive talents.
Senior setter and co-captain Riley McKibbin set the tone for the defense with a stiff block on Menzel on his first attempt.
“Although he’s not that tall, he had a huge block on Menzel,” Ferguson said. “And with Riley being the shorter guy, it really got in his head.”
The Trojans continued the effort with strong serving from Troy.
“Murphy did a great job serving him,” Ferguson said. “He made it tough for him to pass and that made it difficult for him to attack.”
The Trojans outdug the Gauchos 29-21 and outblocked them 11-6. Freshman libero Henry Cassiday continued his impressive inaugural season, tallying nine digs.
Ferguson, however, was not impressed by his team’s defensive execution.
“We didn’t dig as well as we could have,” Ferguson said. “We missed about seven opportunities that I thought were easy plays, but we were a little bit out of position or made a wrong move. Just something to keep an eye on.”