No. 11 USC Men Clinch Playoff Spot with Senior Night Win

  0 Wendy Mayer | April 07th, 2017 | College - Men's Indoor, MPSF

Match Stats

  • No. 11 USC 3, Cal Baptist 1 (25-18, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22)
  • USC moves to 13-13, 7-10 MPSF; Cal Baptist falls to 7-19, 2-15 MPSF
  • Los Angeles
  • Attendance: 450
  • Box Score

The final spot in the MPSF playoffs was clinched Thursday night as No. 11 USC topped Cal Baptist 3-1 on senior night in the Galen Center. The Trojans won the match 25-18, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22.

The match was fairly even on the stat sheet, with USC outhitting Cal Baptist .330 to .316 and winning the service battle 4-1, but the Lancers posted 10 blocks to the Trojan’s eight.

Senior outside hitter Lucas Yoder, senior middle blocker Andy Benesh and sophomore outside Gianluca Grosso posted double-digit kills for the Trojans. Yoder put down 17 kills and a team-best two aces. Benesh added 13, while hitting at a stellar .722 clip (13-0-18) and adding a team-best six blocks. Grasso chipped in 12 kills. Defensively, senior libero Vinnie Rios managed seven digs.

Senior outside Luis Palos led all hitters with 18 kills on a .536 hitting effort to go with a team-best four blocks. Junior middle Enrique Garcia added 10 kills. Senior setter Cody Jackson and senior middle Caleb Miller put up four blocks apiece, while Junior outside Rohit Paul and sophomore libero Emmett Enriquez pulled up seven digs apiece.

USC hit .600 in the opening set win. The teams split the first 18 points, before the Trojans pulled away with kills from four different players, including three by Grosso, to go up 15-12. A kill and an ace by Yoder made it 19-15 USC. Grosso turned in two more kills as the Trojans ended the set on a 5-1 run.

The Trojans jumped out to a 7-1 lead in Set 2 and maintained the advantage at 13-6 as Benesh heated up with two kills and a block. Cal Baptist cut the margin to three at 20-17, but could not break through. A Banesh kill made it 24-20 and a Lancer miscue ended the set to serves later.

Cal Baptist came out on fire after intermission, racing ahead 13-8 with help from four Palos putaways. Garcia added two kills and a block to push the lead to 17-11. Three more Palos kills made it 23-17, but the Trojans battled back with five straight points, including two Yoder kills, to pull within one at 23-22. Kills by Kevin Vaz and Palos secured the CBU win.

The teams battled back and forth in Set 4 leading to a 12-all tie. USC scored five straight, including two kills and a block by Banesh to break away. Down 22-15, Cal Baptist rallied to within two at 22-20 with help from three straight blocks. The Lancers staved off one match-point attempt at 24-21, but could not extend the match.


Courtesy: USC Athletics

Seniors Lucas Yoder had 17 kills and Andy Benesh had 13 kills while hitting .722 and added 6 blocks as the No. 11-ranked USC men’s volleyball team clinched the eighth and final spot into next week’s Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament with a 25-18, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22 win over Cal Baptist in an MPSF match on Thursday (April 6) in USC’s Galen Center.

USC evened its overall record to 13-13 and moved to 7-10 in the MPSF, while Cal Baptist fell to 7-19 overall and 2-15 in league play.

The teams meet again on Saturday (April 8) at 7 p.m. PT in Riverside in the MPSF regular season finale for both squads.

The match was the final Galen Center appearance for USC’s 5 seniors: Yoder, Benesh, Christopher Orenic, Vinnie Rios and Michael Mullahey. Former USC men’s head coach and current Wake Forest women’s head coach Bill Ferguson, who recruited the seniors to USC, was in attendance for the post-match Senior Night ceremony.

USC hit .330 overall to Cal Baptist’s .316 and the Trojans served 4 aces, but the Lancers had more blocks (10.0 to 8.0).

Gianluca Grasso added 12 kills for Troy, while Lucas Lossone had 9 kills and Rios had 7 digs.

Luis Palos led CBU with 18 kills while hitting .536 and he had 4 blocks, Enrique Garcia had 10 kills (hitting .471), Caleb Miller had 4 blocks and both Rohit Paul and Emmett Enriques had 7 digs.

USC went on a 3-0 run in the first set to go up 11-9 and steadily pulled away while hitting .600.

The Trojans scored the first 3 points of the second set, and 7 of the first 8, and the Lancers were unable to catch up as Troy posted 4.0 blocks.

Cal Baptist scored 6 of 7 points to build a 13-8 lead in the third set and then held a 23-17 lead, but USC pulled to within 23-22 before the Lancers finished out the set while hitting .387 and getting 13 digs.

In the fourth set, USC scored 5 consecutive points to move out to a 17-12 lead, all the edge it needed to hold off the Lancers and clinch an MPSF tourney berth as senior Orenic scored the match’s final point.

Courtesy: Cal Baptist Athletics

LOS ANGELES — Coming off back-to-back five-set matches last week against two ranked teams, California Baptist University looked to do it again Thursday after finding itself down two sets to No. 11-ranked USC. The Lancers rallied in the third to keep the match alive, but dropped the match 3-1 (25-18, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22).   CBU falls to 7-20 overall, 2-15 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. USC improves to 13-13 on the year and 7-10 in conference, securing its spot in the MPSF Tournament.

Luis Palos had a career night, finishing with 18 kills on a 53.6 hitting clip. Enrique de Diego Garcia chipped in 10 kills on 47.1-percent hitting, while Palos and Caleb Miller each posted four blocks on the night.   USC grabbed the first multi-point lead of the night, 6-3, but the Lancers battled back to tie the set up at 6-6. The Trojans tried to create some separation again, with a 12-10 upper hand, but Rohit Paul snuck a kill past the USC block to put CBU within one, 12-11.   It was the closest CBU would get, however, as USC took the set 25-18.

That momentum carried over into the next set as Troy jumped out to a 7-1 lead. CBU stayed in it, slowly chipping away at the home team’s lead. A solo stuff from Cody Jackson put the Lancers within three, 21-18, but USC managed to walk away with the 25-21 set win to take a 2-0 lead in the match.

Down 2-0 in the match is a position CBU has been in before and the Lancers weren’t ready to pack it in. Palos powered home a kill from the back court to put his team in front 6-4, but the Lancers couldn’t quite seem to get more separation just yet.   After Palos scrapped up a kill for CBU, Miller smacked down a power kill from the middle to put his team in front 13-8 and force the first Trojan timeout of the night. The Lancers were out-hitting the Trojans 72.7 to 8.3 leading up to the break, hoping to keep momentum in the visitors’ corner.   USC tried to battle back, but the Lancers seemed determined to keep their multi-point cushion. The Trojans pulled within four, 15-11, but a powerful kill from Garcia, followed by a block by Garcia and Jackson, gave the Lancers a 17-11 upper hand.   The Lancers kept pushing and extended their lead to a 20-13 mark, forcing another Troy timeout.   With the chance to secure a playoff berth, USC came battling back and cut the margin to just three points, 23-20, to force a CBU timeout. The Trojans weren’t stopping, however, and kept coming, 23-22, before a kill from Vaz put CBU within set point.   USC stayed alive with the next point, but Palos evaded the threat with a kill right in the middle of the Trojan defense, 25-23.

The Lancers looked to carry that momentum into the fourth, but found themselves in a battle. Even at 12-12, USC rattled off three-straight points to jump in front 15-12. Not willing to give up, CBU rallied to pull within two off a Jackson and Miller combo stuff, 22-20. The Trojans still managed to reach match point, 24-21, but Miller kept the Lancers in play with a strong kill in the middle. USC ended it on the next play, however, taking the fourth 25-22 to win the match.

CBU and the Trojans turn right around for a rematch on Saturday, this time back at the Van Dyne Gym with a 7:00 p.m. start time.

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About Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer has worked in athletics media relations for the last 20 years. The Northwest Missouri State alumna is currently senior writer for after spending the last 15 years with Purdue athletics.

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