No. 1 USC Men's Volleyball Heads To NCAA Championships
May 2, 2011
The No. 1-ranked USC men's volleyball team (23-3 overall, 20-2 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation for first place, No. 1 NCAA seed) will be making its second appearance in the NCAA Championships in the last 3 years--and 13th overall--when it faces No. 3 UC Santa Barbara (17-14, 11-11 MPSF for seventh place, No. 4 NCAA seed) in a semifinal match on Thursday (May 5) at 7 p.m. ET at host Penn State's Recreation Hall in State College, Pa. The other semifinal that day at 9 p.m. ET pits No. 10 Penn State (24-6, 10-0 EIVA for first place Tait Division, No. 2 NCAA seed) versus No. 8 Ohio State (14-6, 11-1 MIVA for first place, No. 3 NCAA seed). The semi winners will then battle for the NCAA crown on Saturday (May 7) at 7 p.m. ET.
The Trojans, winners of the MPSF regular season title for the first time since 2000 and with their most overall wins since 1999, are seeking their first NCAA title since 1990 (and their fifth overall). USC is coming off a 5-set upset loss to UC Santa Barbara in the final of the MPSF Tournament, snapping a 6-match winning streak over the Gauchos (and a 17-match home winning string), and therefore enters the NCAA tourney as the at-large qualifier. All 3 of USC's losses this year have come in 5 sets. USC has won its last 3 meetings against Ohio State and past 2 against Penn State.
Twice before, USC advanced to the NCAA Final Four coming off a loss (both times, the Trojans went on to win the NCAA title by defeating the team that gave them that loss). USC has twice played in the NCAA Final Four in State College, but has never won a championship there. In fact, USC is just .500 all-time in State College and has lost in its past 2 trips there. Thirteen current Trojans were members of USC's 2009 NCAA runnerup squad. All 3 Trojan assistants have played in an NCAA final. The USC lineup features All-Americans Murphy Troy (the 2011 MPSF Player of the Year), Riley McKibbin and Tony Ciarelli. USC is hitting at a school record pace. UCSB is coached by the brother of former Trojan head coach Jim McLaughlin, who led USC to an NCAA title. USC's women also advanced to the NCAA Final Four this season.