Pacific Drops Season Opener to No. 8 Southern California at Elephant Bar/ UC Santa Barbara Tournamen


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Santa Barbara, Calif. - The Pacific men's volleyball team fell to USC in its season opener, 3-1, at the UC Santa Barbara / Elephant Bar Tournament on Friday, Jan. 4.

The loss moved Pacific to 0-1 on the season, while USC improved to 1-1.

Game scores for the match were: 20-30, 26-30, 30-25, 23-30.

The Tigers opened up the 2008 season with a competitive contest versus the Trojans. Pacific's offense got off to a slow start, but by the end of the match they were firing on all cylinders. The smart hitting, and timely defensive plays allowed the Tigers to keep the match close throughout

Pacific exchanged blows with the Trojans for the better part of the first game. The back and forth battle between the two teams broke open when USC scored five straight points to take a 16-8 contest. The separation proved to be too much for the Tigers to overcome as Pacific fell in the first game, 30-20.

Pacific found their offensive rhythm in the second game as senior Pekka Seppanen (Kuopio, Finland) and junior Jeff Hendershot (Claremont, Calif.) combined for 10 kills on 17 attempts. The offensive shot kept the score continually close in game two. With the score 21-19 in favor of USC, Trojan hitter C.J. Schellenberg led the Trojan team to six unanswered points. The Tigers battled back to bring the score within four 29-25 before falling 30-26. Pacific posted a game-high .500 hitting percentage in the second frame with 19 kills and just three errors on 32 attempts. USC, however, answered with a hitting percentage of .516 behind 20 kills and four errors on 31 attempts.

The Tigers continued to deliver the offensive pressure in third contest and also raised the bar on defense in the third game. Leading 23-22 late in the game, Pacific began to pull away. The Tigers forced USC into a critical attacking error, then senior Simon Chen-Byerley (Northfield, Ill.) pounded down a kill in the middle. Pacific maintained its three-point lead until 28-25, when the Tigers closed out the game on a kill from junior Joe Forbes (Westport, Conn.) and another costly USC attacking error.

Unfortunately the Tigers could not maintain their intensity at the opening of the fourth game as USC bounced out to a 10-3 lead. Pacific couldn't recover and dropped the fourth game, 30-23.

Seppanen led the Tigers with 16 kills and nine digs and finished with a stellar hitting percentage of .536, committing just one error on 28 attempts. Hendershot finished with 14 kills, while Chen-Byerley posted 10 kills in the match. The duo of Hendershot and Chen-Byerley also put up impressive hitting totals as Hendershot hit .346 and Chen-Byerley finished at .471 with two errors on 17 attempts.

Three Trojans also finished in double-figures in kills, led by a match-high 19 kills from Murphy Troy.

As a team the Tigers finished the match with a hitting percentage of .261 with 56 kills, 26 errors on 115 attempts. USC, meanwhile, hit .364 during the match with 56 kills and 17 errors on 107 swings.

Pacific returns to the court on Saturday, Jan. 5 at 11 a.m. as the Tigers wrap up play at the UC Santa Barbara / Elephant Bar Tournament in the seventh place game against UC Santa Barbara.

Article courtesy of Pacific athletics.

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