USC Prepares For Two Ranked Opponents In The Coming Week

  0 volleymob | January 10th, 2017 | College - Men's Indoor, MPSF, News


The USC men’s volleyball team (1-2 overall, 0-0 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation), after opening its 2017 campaign with a 3-match road trip, now begins MPSF play by hosting No. 3 Long Beach State (3-0, 0-0) on Wednesday (Jan. 11) and No. 13 Cal State Northridge (5-0, 0-0) on Saturday (Jan. 14). Both matches begin at 7 p.m. in the Galen Center. The Long Beach State match will air live on Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Los Angeles, with Kevin Barnett and Dain Blanton mikeside.


All of USC’s home matches are video- and audio-streamed live for free on and the TuneIn Radio app, except for matches televised live on Pac-12 Network (those matches only are audio-streamed). Some of USC’s road matches are audiocast live on and the TuneIn Radio app. USC’s online announcers are onetime Northeastern player/Winthrop assistant coach Paul Duchesne and ex-Trojan player Paul Yoder (one of 6 Yoders to have played volleyball at USC). Fans can also follow USC home matches through Live Stats at and all matches via Twitter (@USCmensvolley).


Tickets for USC men’s volleyball home matches are available online at, by calling (213) 740-GOSC (4672) or at the Galen Center box office.


USC is not ranked in the current AVCA Division I-II Top 15 poll. Long Beach State is No. 3 and Cal State Northridge is 13th.


USC holds a 60-49 series edge over Long Beach State, but has lost the last 2 meetings. USC is 47-33 all-time against Cal State Northridge, but has dropped the past 3 matches. The Matadors visit Cal Baptist on Jan. 11 before meeting the Trojans.


USC began its 2017 campaign with a trio of road matches. Unranked USC, behind 13 kills from first-year freshman opposite hitter Aaron Strange, opened its 2017 season with a 30-28, 23-25, 25-13, 25-18 road win over Concordia in a non-conference match in Irvine on Jan. 3. USC won its season opener for the 29th time in the program’s 48-year history. Strange hit .667 (only 1 hitting error among 18 swings) and added 4 blocks. Top-ranked and defending NCAA champion Ohio State came back to defeat unranked USC, 22-25, 27-25, 25-18, 25-16, on Jan. 6 on the first day of the AVCA Showcase — Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge on the Buckeyes’ home floor in Columbus, Ohio. Lucas Yoder led USC with match highs of 15 kills, 8 digs and 2 aces. Despite a career-best 33 kills from Lucas Yoder, unranked USC fell in 5 sets to No. 13 Penn State, 30-32, 25-14, 21-25, 25-23, 15-11, on the second day of the AVCA Showcase – Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge in Columbus, Ohio, on Jan. 7. Yoder’s 33 kills were 3 shy of Brook Billings’ USC rally scoring era match record of 36. Yoder hit. .509 overall and added 9 digs.


Andy Benesh, a 6-9 senior who was sidelined for the first 5 matches of 2016 with a back injury, returned after starting the past 3 years at middle blocker. He hit .377 last spring with 109 kills, 52 blocks, 37 digs and 15 aces. Entering 2017, the 2014 and 2015 U.S. Men’s Junior National Team performer was hitting .409 in his career. He was a 2015 All-American honorable mention choice and is Troy’s captain in 2017. The 2017 All-American candidate is on the 2017 Off The Block Ryan Millar Award Watch List (for the nation’s top middle attacker).


Lucas Yoder, a 6-5 senior who has started 2 previous years at outside hitter, is one of 6 Yoders to play volleyball at USC. He has been the Trojans’ primary attacker when in the lineup and is the team’s top passer. Entering 2017, he was a .285 career hitter, with 673 kills and 211 digs (he was the 2014 National and MPSF Freshman of the Year). Last year, he had a team-high 273 kills while hitting .266 and he added 96 digs and 33 blocks as he made All-MPSF honorable mention. The 2017 All-American candidate is on the 2017 Off The Block Karch Kiraly Award Watch List (for the nation’s top outside attacker).


Three players are in the mix to start at setter. The most experienced is 6-6 junior Gert Lisha, a former Lewis transfer who started half of USC’s matches in 2016 (he missed most of the season’s first month with a broken hand) and posted 378 assists, 31 digs and 15 blocks. Lisha gained valuable international experience this past summer when he played for his native Albania in the 2016 CEV European League. Then there are 6-5 senior Michael Mullahey, who started 5 matches at USC entering 2017 (he was sidelined for the first 20 matches of 2016 with a knee injury) and 6-3 first-year freshman Matt Faraimo of Cathedral Catholic High in San Diego (Calif.), a 2016 All-CIF San Diego first teamer (he has a relative who played football at USC).


In addition to Lucas Yoder (see above), 5 other players are battling to see action at outside hitter. They are: 6-3 senior Christopher Orenic, who has 23 career starts entering 2017 (he started 3 times and saw action in 18 matches in 2016, getting 42 kills), 6-8 sophomore Ryan Moss, who had 6 starts among his 21 match appearances last spring (he had 57 kills, 36 digs and 19 blocks), 6-3 soph Woody Cook, who had 5 starts while playing in 11 matches last year and getting 40 kills and 33 digs, 6-4 soph Blake Markland, who saw limited action in 5 matches last season but whose play has improved noticeably since then, and 6-5 first-year freshman Sean Morrissey of Huntington Beach (Calif.) High, a 2016 AVCA prep All-American first team and All-CIF Division I first team honoree.

News courtesy of USC Athletics.

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