No. 11 USC Holds Off Match Point To Upset No. 5 UCLA In Five Games


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Los Angeles, Calif. - The No. 11-ranked USC men's volleyball team held off a 14-12 match point deficit in the fifth game and came back to post a thrilling 30-26, 30-24, 23-30, 18-30, 18-16 upset victory over No. 5 UCLA in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match on Wednesday (Jan. 23) before 750 fans in USC's Galen Center.

USC improved to 4-4 overall and 3-3 in the MPSF, while the Bruins dropped to 5-3 and 2-2. It was USC's second victory in its last three matches against UCLA.

The Trojans trailed 14-12 in the final game before a UCLA serving error and a kill by Andrew Vernon knotted the score at 14-14. The teams then exchanged the next 4 points before another Bruin serving error followed by a combined block by Vernon and Jimmy Killian gave USC the win.

USC's Juan Figueroa had a match-high 20 kills (hitting .359) and 11 digs, while teammate C.J. Schellenberg added 15 kills, 6 digs and 4 blocks and Murphy Troy had 10 kills. Vernon had 7 kills while hitting .500 plus 7 blocks and Austin Zahn added 8 kills and 4 blocks.

For UCLA, Garrett Muagututia had 19 kills and 6 blocks, Ryan Ratelle had 14 kills while hitting .591 off the bench and Brett Perrine had 13 kills (hitting .550) with 8 digs also off the bench. Tony Ker had 9 digs and James Diefenbach had 7 kills along with 9 blocks.

The Bruins outhit USC, .344 to .281, and served 11 aces.

In the first game, USC scored 3 straight points to break away from a 9-9 deadlock and never gave up the lead while hitting .429 and getting 5 blocks. The second game was similar, with USC scoring 4 in a row when the game was even at 8-8 and then the Trojans cruised in as UCLA hit only .036 (USC added 6 more blocks in that game). It was all UCLA from the start in the third game, as the Bruins opened up a quick 6-1 lead and, although USC went on a 10-2 run to come within 18-16, UCLA held on while hitting .458 with 6 aces. The fourth game was more of the same for UCLA, which went on an early 8-0 run to open a 14-6 lead and easily closed out the game while hitting a blazing .800 with 14 kills and no errors on 16 attempts.

The win gave USC 2.5 points toward the sport's 5 points in the Lexus Gauntlet competition, a trophy awarded annually to the school with the most successful athletic year against the other. USC currently leads this season's competition, 37.5-10.

USC next hosts No. 10 UC Irvine on Friday (Jan. 25) at 7 p.m. in the Galen Center in another MPSF match.

Article courtesy of USC athletics.

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