No. 5 USC Men's Volleyball Beats 2-Time Defending NCAA Champ UC Irvine

    Andy Benesh

    Jan. 14, 2014

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    A pair of first-year freshmen--Lucas Yoder, who had a career-best 21 kills, and Andy Benesh, who had a career-high 15 kills while hitting .789--led the No. 5-ranked USC men's volleyball team to a 20-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-19, 15-10 victory over 2-time defending NCAA champion and seventh-ranked UC Irvine in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match on Tuesday (Jan. 14) at USC's Galen Center.

    USC improved to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the MPSF, while UCI fell to 3-3 overall and 0-2 in the MPSF.

    Alex Slaught added 10 kills and a career-high 12 digs for USC, while Robert Feathers came off the bench to get 10 kills (hitting .562), 5 blocks and 2 aces, Henry Cassiday had a match-best 15 digs and Micah Christenson had 9 digs and 5 blocks to go with his 59 assists.

    Tamir Hershko, also a freshman who served 2 years in the Israeli army after high school, led the Anteaters with 22 kills, while Collin Mehring had 12 kills while hitting .750 and added 7 blocks, Connor Hughes had 11 kills and Scott Kevorken had 9 kills.

    USC hit .292 to UCI's .272. The Trojans notched 53 digs, while the Anteaters had 28.

    In the first set, UC Irvine got out to a 6-3 lead, but the Trojans closed to 19-18 before the Anteaters scored the next 4 points to regain control while hitting .458 and getting 4.0 blocks. The second set seesawed, with both teams taking small leads before USC went on a 3-0 run to forge a 15-11 lead and UCI couldn't catch up as the Trojans hit .407. UCI extended a tight 15-14 lead in the third set to 21-17 and then had to hold on when it got to 24-20 as the Trojans nearly caught up. USC scored back-to-back points to go up 10-8 in the fourth set and held off the Anteaters while hitting at a .423 clip and getting 3.5 blocks. In the fifth set, USC fought back from a 6-4 deficit by scoring 4 consecutive points, a lead it never relinquished while hitting .500 and getting 3 blocks.

    USC returns to action on Thursday (Jan. 16) in the Galen Center for a 7 p.m. match against No. 3 Pepperdine.