USC records weekend victories
The No. 1 USC men‚Äôs volleyball team notched back-to-back wins against No. 15 UC San Diego and No. 7 UC Irvine this weekend.
The Trojans beat the UC San Diego Tritons in straight sets with scores of 25-23, 28-26, and 25-23. Although this victory was earned in a sweep, the victory was less-than-decisive.
‚ÄúThey beat us to 20 in all three sets,‚ÄĚ said USC coach Bill Ferguson. ‚ÄúWe managed to turn it on late in each set though.‚ÄĚ
Senior opposite Murphy Troy led the charge with 11 kills earned at a .417 clip. Troy and freshman libero Henry Cassiday shared the match-high with seven digs.
‚ÄúWe weren‚Äôt very sharp in any way, shape or form,‚ÄĚ Ferguson said. ‚ÄúThey had some runs off our errors and stayed in long enough to make it interesting.‚ÄĚ
UC San Diego senior setter Phil Bannan managed to serve USC out of system for the majority of the match.
Despite an uncharacteristically high number of errors from the Trojans, the Tritons managed to hit at only a .181 clip for the match, including .000 in the second set.
Senior middle blocker Calvin Ross was expected to be UCSD‚Äôs biggest threat, but was held to two kills earned at a -.167 rate.
‚ÄúWe forced him into quite a few errors,‚ÄĚ Ferguson said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs one of the few places where we executed.‚ÄĚ
Saturday‚Äôs match was competitive from start to finish, finishing with scores of 25-22, 22-25, 25-17, 27-25.
The match featured a revamped UC Irvine team (12-10, 9-7). The Anteaters featured a new starting setter in senior Anthony Spittle, and senior outside hitter Jordan DuFault and sophomore libero Will Montgomery returned from injury.
‚ÄúWith DuFault, [junior opposite] Carson Clark, and [senior outside hitter] Corey Yoder, Irvine has the best group of pin-hitters in the country after us,‚ÄĚ Ferguson said. ‚ÄúAnd with Spittle running their offense, they‚Äôre going to be very fast.‚ÄĚ
However, DuFault left the match during the first set. Freshman libero Jeremy Dejno filled in with 12 kills.
Troy again led the charge with 16 kills. Junior outside hitter Tony Ciarelli added 12 kills, five digs, and four blocks.
The Trojans hit .339 to UCI‚Äôs .240 for the match.
The Anteaters used 6‚Äô4‚ÄĚ backup outside hitter Kevin Carroll at middle blocker for the match against senior middle blocker Austin Zahn and junior middle blocker Steven Shandrick, who measure in at 6‚Äô8‚ÄĚ and 6‚Äô7‚ÄĚ respectively.
‚ÄúCarroll did a good job blocking, especially considering he‚Äôs spent only two weeks playing middle blocker,‚ÄĚ said senior opposite Murphy Troy. ‚ÄúBut, our two middles match up great against anyone in the country.‚ÄĚ
UC Irvine was riddled with errors, committing 20 service errors to USC‚Äôs nine and 27 attacking errors to USC‚Äôs 12.
After splitting the first two sets, the Trojans got hot in the third, finishing with a .478 hitting percentage.
‚ÄúWe show up at the right times,‚ÄĚ said senior setter Riley McKibbin. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs good to win one in four against them. We‚Äôve got a huge rivalry.‚ÄĚ
The Trojans‚Äô advantage at middle blocker ended up paying huge dividends at the end of the match.
With the match tied at 25-25, senior middle blocker Austin Zahn had a huge kill to give the Trojans the edge in a deuce game.
With the Trojans up 26-25 in the fourth and final set, junior middle blocker Steven Shandrick showed up with a huge block to end the match.
‚ÄúAs a team, we channeled a lot of energy into the match,‚ÄĚ Shandrick said. ‚ÄúWhenever games go that long, it‚Äôs great to get that last point. It was awesome. No other way to describe it.‚ÄĚ
The fiery McKibbin ended the match with a leap onto the scorer‚Äôs table to ring in praise from the crowd.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm just stoked to win,‚ÄĚ McKibbin said. ‚ÄúNot only did we win a really close match, but now we‚Äôve closed out the second 3rd of our season with only one loss.‚ÄĚ