No. 1 men’s volleyball overpowers UC Irvine

first_imgIn his pre-game interview, USC coach Bill Ferguson indicated that No. 7 UC Irvine’s mediocre record belied a team that was only a few minor lineup adjustments away from surging.On Wednesday night, his words would prove prophetic as the Anteaters (3-4, 1-2) competed valiantly for a stretch, until falling to the No. 1 USC men’s volleyball team in four sets, 25-16, 27-25, 27-29, 25-17.“It wasn’t the most well-played game, but I think we showed some grit and some mental toughness there, and that was really the theme of our talk after the game,” Ferguson said.Indeed, the Trojans (3-0, 3-0) scheduled a difficult opponent for their first match away from the Galen Center, but to deserve a No. 1 seed teams must win consistently regardless of the environment.Padding his early Player of the Year candidate credentials, senior opposite Murphy Troy registered 19 kills, 11 digs and two blocks. Aiding Troy was another perpetual stat-sheet stuffer in junior opposite hitter Tony Ciarelli, who chipped in with 17 kills, five blocks and five digs.“They were good the whole game, battled real well,” Ferguson said of his two star players. “Irvine was keying on both of those guys. However, a guy who really came in and did a phenomenal job was [senior opposite hitter] Tri Bourne.”Bourne entered for sophomore opposite hitter Maddison McKibbin two-thirds of the way through the second set, when the Trojans were trailing 23-19. He proceeded to amass eight kills and five digs over the duration of the match to solidify the Trojans’ offensive attack and propel them to a comeback in that crucial second set.A refrain among USC players before this game was that their focus could not waver and that any No. 1-ranked team will receive its opponent’s fiercest effort.When asked if his team followed through on its expressed mission, Ferguson quickly dispelled any notion that the Trojans took the Anteaters lightly. Instead, he attributed poor execution and unforced errors to many of their woes.“We’ll never overlook [Irvine],” Ferguson said. “They’re too good. They played well, and after the end of the first set it was really close.”Undoubtedly, the Trojans’ resilience was tested for the first time all season in this game, and if this team demonstrates similar resolve in future matches, the Trojans may have the mettle to excel in the long haul.“I’m most proud of the fact that we turned the game right around in the fourth set, and really steadied out and did our thing,” Ferguson said. “We made plays like we did in the first set.”last_img

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