The key play of the game came with USC trailing, 24-23. Murphy Troy, a 6-foot-8 outside hitter who finished with a match-high 19 kills, was prone on his back after falling to the floor during a point. The ball ricocheted from UCI's side of the net toward Troy, positioned about five feet outside the sideline and roughly 15 feet from the net. As the ball descended toward his right foot, Troy instinctively kicked, sending it back over the net in a rally that USC eventually won. The kick save, at which both coaches marveled later, provided a huge lift for the visitors, who have long been known for their emotional style of play.
"It should be ESPN's Play of the Week," UCI Coach John Speraw said of Troy's dig, which typified a strong defensive performance by USC that translated into a 48-38 advantage in digs. "That's a sweet play. What do you say to that? They were going nuts and you look at that and shrug your shoulders and say, 'OK, nice play.' You try to come back and make a play of your own, but they were so excited, they made a couple more plays and got the game."
USC Coach Bill Ferguson walked toward the court and pumped his fist, Tiger Woods-style, after Troy's dramatic dig, as the Trojans' players, both on the court and on the bench, leaped, cavorted, slapped hands and hugged.
"That was a cool play," Ferguson said. "I'm really glad it happened. I think it's a testament to how hard our guys are working in the gym and that they never give up."
UCI (3-4, 1-2) showed an ability to keep fighting in the third set, finally giving the large crowd reason to stand and cheer by rallying late to give USC its only loss in 10 games this season.