The No. 4 USC Trojans men’s volleyball team was swept at home by No. 3 UCLA Friday night by scores of 27-25, 25-15 and 25-23.
The Bruins (11-1, 6-0) beat the Trojans (5-4, 4-4) behind a steady diet of strong serves, blocks and defense that derailed the Trojans’ offense.
“They served us out of system and made our offense predictable,” said USC coach Bill Ferguson. “Every time we took a swing from the power side, they had three blockers on us.”
The Bruins finished with 15.5 blocks to the Trojans’ 7.5. Almost every Trojan attack was met with a solid wall of blockers, taking away the power shots and forcing easy tips, rolls and dunks. The Trojan offense hit .103 on the day, the lowest percentage this season.
The Trojans’ individual hitting numbers illustrated the effectivness of the Bruin block. Redshirt sophomore opposite Tanner Jansen finished with a game-high 12 kills but also committed seven errors, resulting in a .179 hitting percentage. Jansen’s percentage, however, was the best Trojan total for the day. The senior duo of captains, 2011 All-MPSF honorees Tony Ciarelli and Steven Shandrick ,were the focus of the Bruin block all night and finished with hitting percentages of .029 and .000 respectively.
The first set was teeming with energy from both sides and went to extra points. Though the Trojans were out-hit .294 to .194, the set was competitive from start to finish.
“The first game was dog-eat-dog,” Ferguson said. “We had a couple of swings that could have gotten us back into it, but they just didn’t work.”
Things got worse from there. The Trojans had as many errors as kills, resulting in a .000 hitting percentage. On the other side, the Bruins became efficient and forceful, finishing the set hitting at a .450 clip.
“Our guys got frustrated in the second set and we got away from our game plan,” Ferguson said. “The second set was the one set that we didn’t do well in.”
The Trojans showed life in the third set when they went on an 8-3 scoring run to tie the game at 19-19. The run included two straight blocks from senior middle blocker and co-captain Steven Shandrick.
“Our guys showed a lot of resolve and fight during that stretch,” Ferguson said. “But things just fell short.”
When asked about what to learn from this match, senior outside hitter and co-captain Tony Ciarelli was brief.
“We didn’t play well. We didn’t hit well,” Ciarelli said. “All we can learn is to never play like that again.”