Big Defensive Night Not Enough As Pacific Men's Volleyball Falls To No. 13 USC
Finishing out their home weekend, the No. 15 ranked Pacific men's volleyball team suffered a 3-1 loss to No. 13 USC on Saturday. The loss for the Tigers dropped their record to 5-9 overall and 3-9 in MPSF play while the Trojans improved to 4-8 overall and in conference action.
The story in the opening set was sophomore Tommy Carmody as the second-year middle-blocker put on a blocking clinic for all those in attendance in the Spanos Center to lead Pacific to the first set win. Building the Great Wall Of Carmody against the Trojan attack throughout the first set, Carmody tallied six total blocks to stymie USC's attack.
In the second, the Tigers saw the Trojans adjust to their defensive presence at the net and alter the attack to come away with the set victory. Battling back-and-forth for much of the frame, the Tigers opened up a late three-point lead at 19-16 and appeared well on their way to the dominating 2-0 lead. However, the Trojans rallied to take five of the next seven points, taking advantage of a bevy of Pacific mistakes to get back into the match. Even with the late charge, the Tigers still had a pair of chances to take the set as Pacific served for the set at both 24-23, and 25-24, only to be denied by USC. Needing three attempts of their own, the Trojans finally evened the match at one set a piece on a kill by Robert Feathers. In the set, Feathers posted six kills in seven swings including picking up three of his six after the match reached the 20-point plateau.
In an eerily similar set to their fourth-set loss from a night prior against Pepperdine, the Tigers had no answer for the Trojans in the third set as USC used the momentum of stealing the second set to run away with the third. Tight through the first 30 points of the frame, the Trojans blew open the set with a 5-0 run before closing out the Tigers with four-straight points. In total, USC hit a match-best .455 in the set as the Trojans posted 17 kills and just two errors in 33 attacks. Once again, it was Feathers who did the bulk of the lifting as he went 5-for-6 without an error for the third-consecutive set.
In the final set of the night, the Tigers did their best to stay with the Trojans late, trading points throughout the first 30 points once again. From there, the Trojans were able to open up a three-point advantage late, an advantage they would not give back. Pacific closed within one three different times throughout the final 10 points of the match, but in the end could not get over the hump to tie the set up. Overall, the difference in the final few points of the set proved to be the play of Tanner Jansen as the Trojan outside posted three of his set-high eight kills and added a service ace to lead the way.
Overall, Jansen finished the night a match-best 21 kills on 44 attacks. In the middle, Feathers posted 16 kills on .500 hitting while Joey Booth and Cristian Rivera added 12 and 11, respectively.
Pacific was paced by senior Taylor Hughes who finished with 14 kills but was held to just .171 hitting. He added five blocks and six digs to round out his night. In the middle, Carmody posted 10 total blocks, including three solo efforts, to lead Pacific's defensive play while senior Adam Troy added 10 kills to round out Pacific's top scoring.
The Tigers are back in action on March 6 against Cal State Baptist on the road. Pacific will play their midweek tilt at 7 p.m. on the road to kick off a three-match road trip.