Tanner Jansen, Lucas Yoder and Andy Benesh each had 15 kills to help the No. 5-ranked USC men's volleyball team come back to beat No. 8 UC Santa Barbara, 20-25, 34-32, 23-25, 27-25, 15-9, in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match on Thursday (Feb. 6) in USC's Galen Center.
USC improved to 6-3 overall and 5-3 in the MPSF, while UCSB fell to 5-3 overall and 4-3 in the MPSF.
Jansen, who came off the bench to start the second set, also had 9 digs, while Yoder had 8 digs. Benesh hit .636 and had a team-best 10 blocks. Henry Cassiday had a match-high 13 digs. Joey Booth, seeing his first action of 2014 after being slowed with a knee injury, came off the bench in the second set and recorded 7 digs, 5 blocks and 5 kills.
Evan Licht led the Gauchos with 18 kills and 10 digs, while Austin Kingi had 13 kills, Ryan Hardy had 11 kills (hitting .409) and 10 blocks, Weston Nielsen had 11 kills and 8 digs, Jake Staahl had 11 blocks and Jonah Seif had 12 digs.
Neither team hit for a high percentage, with the Trojans at .210 and UCSB at .184. The Gauchos had 21.5 blocks to USC's 14.0 and they served 5 aces.
USC fell behind quickly in the first set, down 12-7 before pulling within a point at 14-13, but then the Gauchos regained control while hitting .360 and getting 6.0 blocks overall. The Trojans scored 6 out of 7 points to tie the second set at 17-17, then went on a 3-0 run to go up 24-23 and finally used a Micah Christenson dump followed by a Yoder tip to pull out the set while hitting .349 and getting 18 digs despite UCSB's 5.0 blocks. UC Santa Barbara went on a 3-0 run in the third set to forge a 17-14 lead and the Trojans could never quite catch up. The fourth set saw a number of lead changes, as USC opened an 11-8 edge, then was down 14-12 but went up 19-17, then fell behind 24-21 before scoring 4 straight points (on a pair of Jansen kills, followed by a Gaucho red card and hitting error) and Troy held on to win despite UCSB's 7.5 blocks. In the final set, USC jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never was threatened while hitting .389.