Yoder's rise no mistake

Men's Volleyball

Senior outside hitter, whose family heritage is Cardinal and Gold, aims to help 'Eaters top Trojans Thursday night at USC.

April 27, 2011|By Barry Faulkner,
(Kent Treptow / Daily…)

Until the end of his career at San Clemente High, few would have contested that Cory Yoder was destined to play at USC.

And, so it is that five years later, the 6-foot-3 redshirt senior will play the biggest match of his final collegiate campaign at USC's Galen Center.

But Yoder, the son of USC volleyball legend Bob Yoder, nephew of former USC player David Yoder and older brother of Erin Yoder, who was a freshman defensive specialist for USC women's team last fall, will start at outside hitter for UC Irvine when the two teams square off Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in an Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament semifinal match between the top two teams in the national poll.

No. 1-ranked USC (22-2) is the top seed in the eight-team tournament that will provide its winner an automatic berth to the four-team NCAA Championship, May 5 and 7 at Penn State.


No. 2-ranked UCI (19-11) is the No. 4 seed aiming to not only win, but perhaps impress the NCAA selection committee that will award a single at-large berth into the Final Four to an MPSF team.

The story behind Yoder's arrival at UCI is perhaps less interesting than the journey that has led him from virtual obscurity to stardom as an Anteater.

In his first season as a full-time starter, he ranks fourth in the nation, tops among outside hitters, with a .417 hitting percentage. The first-team All-MPSF honoree has hit an eye-popping .485 the last seven matches, with just five errors and 85 kills in 165 swings. He has hit .500 or better 10 times this season and has failed to commit a hitting error in five matches. His 3.33 kills per set rank second on the team, behind two-time All-American Carson Clark, and he is also one of the team's most reliable passers.

"It has been the best year of my career and I'm really happy to be going out on a high note," Yoder said. "I've taken steps to improve my game and I feel like I've come a long way."

UCI Coach John Speraw, who said along with their work together at the Newport Beach-based Balboa Bay Volleyball Club has worked the last seven seasons with Yoder, said Yoder's ascension as an elite hitter has been nothing short of inspiring.

"I think his offensive intelligence has become really striking," Speraw said. "He just doesn't make errors anymore. He sees the block so well and makes smart shots, and he hits with more range. He has always passed the ball really well and, this year, he has become a great hitter. This has been a special year for him."

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