No. 1 Trojans down No. 15 UC San Diego

The No. 1 USC men’s volleyball team continued its first road swing of the season Friday at No. 15 UC San Diego.

The Trojans were dominant, disposing of the Tritons in straight sets (25-12, 25-23, 25-17) at RIMAC Arena.

Helping hand · Senior middle blocker Austin Zahn finished with six kills in helping the Trojans defeat UC San Diego at RIMAC Arena. - Tim Tran | Daily Trojan

“This win is really important for us,” said junior outside hitter Tony Ciarelli. “Coming off three pretty emotional matches against Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State and UC Irvine, it was great to focus and take care of business and get this win in three.”

Senior opposite hitter Murphy Troy led the way with 15 kills earned at a very efficient .522 clip to go along with five digs.

Ciarelli finished with 11 kills.

“Overall it was a great match,” Troy said. “Riley [McKibbin] did a great job spreading the ball around. That made our job a lot easier.”

Senior outside hitter Tri Bourne got his first start of the season after a solid match Wednesday.

“He passed pretty well, served well and blocked well,” said USC coach Bill Ferguson. “And when we needed kills from him, we got them.”

The Trojans (4-0, 4-0) continued to utilize their efficient middle attack throughout the game.

Senior middle blocker Austin Zahn had five kills at a .714 clip and junior middle blocker Steven Shandrick had five kills at a .625 clip.

“We didn’t set the middles as much as we would like,” Ferguson said. “But they hit efficiently and helped create a lot of one-on-ones at the pins.”

This balanced efficiency has been a trend all season long as USC has so far hit at or above a .400 clip.

In total, USC outhit UCSD .416 to .184.

On the other side, outside hitter Carl Eberts led UCSD with nine kills.

The Tritons’ (2-4, 1-2) gameplan had to be adjusted during the match, as setter Phil Bannan played the roles of both setter and hitter in an effort to give the senior more scoring opportunities.

“We did a good job of getting him off the service line, where he scores a lot of his points,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson’s premium on good passing and defense was also displayed Friday, with senior setter Riley McKibbin and freshman libero Henry Cassiday each finishing with seven digs.

The Trojans also sided out at a 94 percent rate in the third set to close the match.

“The final set of every match has had the highest side-out percentage,” Ferguson said. “We’re doing a great job closing.”

The Trojans play again at No. 5 UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The Gauchos are 4-3 overall.