Trojans hold off 'Eaters

Men's Volleyball

No. 2-ranked UCI falls to top-ranked USC in MPSF semifinal, likely ending Anteaters' season.

April 28, 2011|By Barry Faulkner,

LOS ANGELES — UC Irvine could not surmount the challenge presented by No. 1-ranked USC Thursday in the semifinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament.

And it appears, based on criteria to award the at-large berth into the four-team NCAA Championship, the Anteaters similarly do not have what it takes.

So, the No. 2-ranked Anteaters' fifth straight loss to the Trojans, a 25-19, 22-25, 25-20, 25-23 verdict in front of 1,550 at the Galen Center, will put an end to UCI's bid for a third national title in five seasons.


"I don't think that we do," UCI Coach John Speraw said when asked if his team (19-12) stood a chance to earn the at-large berth. "I'd be surprised. My understanding of the criteria is such that with our head-to-head [record] vs. BYU [UCI was swept twice at BYU in January] and Stanford [UCI lost in five at Stanford and fell to the Cardinal in four at home] means we probably don't get the nod over those two teams.

"The way the NCAA designs [the at-large bid] is that it's a reflection of the entire body of work from the entire season. I think it's unfortunate because I think we're actually playing pretty good volleyball. I think we are the No. 2 team in America, but we're not going to compete in the national championships, because the hot team is supposed to use the [conference] tournament to qualify and we came up a little short."

USC (23-2) hit .381 as a team, had seven aces to UCI's two, and received quality production from its three All-Americans. Junior Tony Ciarelli had a match-high 23 kills and he hit .447, while senior opposite Murphy Troy had 17 kills and a .455 hitting percentage. Senior setter Riley McKibbin had 55 assists and two aces.

UCI All-Americans Cory Yoder, a senior outside hitter who was named to the first team Thursday, and junior opposite Carson Clark, a second-team choice, had four and 14 kills, respectively. Yoder, who came in hitting .417 on the season, was benched late in Game 3 and did not return. He finished with four kills and a .105 hitting percentage.

Senior Jordan DuFault led the 'Eaters with 16 kills and wound up hitting .353.

Senior middle blocker Kevin Wynne (three kills), and freshman middle Scott Kevorken (three kills) were also pulled at various times, as Speraw said he tried to seize an opportunity to beat USC on a night the Trojans were less than their best.

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