USC Remains At Home For Just One Match This Week

  0 volleymob | February 07th, 2017 | College - Men's Indoor, MPSF, News


The USC men’s volleyball team (3-8 overall, 2-6 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation), led by national kills leader Lucas Yoder, remains at home for just one match this week, welcoming No. 3 BYU (9-2, 4-1) for an MPSF contest on Friday (Feb. 10) at 7 p.m. PT in the Galen Center.


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. BYU is No. 3.


BYU leads in the series with USC, 39-22, and the Trojans have dropped the past 2 meetings.


Lucas Yoder and Gianluca Grasso combined for 53 kills to help unranked USC snap a 5-match losing streak and upset No. 7 UC Irvine, 25-23, 40-42, 25-23, 25-23, in an MPSF match on Feb. 3 in Irvine. The points in the second set were both the most ever scored by USC and surrendered by the Trojans in a set in program history dating to 1970. Unranked UC San Diego ended its 49-match conference losing streak by beating unranked USC on the road, 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-23, in an MPSF match on Feb. 4 at USC’s Galen Center. Lucas Yoder led USC with 20 kills and he added 6 digs.


Next week, USC stays at home for a pair of MPSF contests, hosting No. 8 Stanford on Thursday (Feb. 16) at 6 p.m. PT (it will be shown live on Pac-12 Network, Pac-12 Los Angeles and Pac-12 Bay Area) and then No. 9 Pepperdine on Saturday (Feb. 18) at 7 p.m. PT, both in the Galen Center.


Gianluca Grasso, an All-Conference junior college outside hitter and the son of parents who played on Brazil’s national teams, joined USC on Jan. 23, 2017, as a sophomore for the 2017 season. The 6-2 Grasso, who is from Sao Paulo, Brazil, was the 2016 All-Pacific Coast Conference Co-MVP as he had 241 kills, 145 digs, 40 aces and 34 blocks as a freshman outside hitter at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa (Calif.). The Pirates were the state runnerup. He did not play volleyball in 2015 after attending Andrews Osborne Academy in Willoughby (Ohio) in 2014. He spent his first 2 years of high school in Puerto Rico. His father, Mauro, and mother, Rejane, played volleyball on Brazil’s national teams (his father coaches professionally), while his brother, Marco, was a setter at Pacific (2013-14) and Ohio State (2015-16), including on the Buckeyes’ 2016 NCAA champions, and his sister, Carol, played volleyball at Salt Lake Community College (2013-14) and Cal State Bakersfield (2015-16) and also beach volleyball at Cal State Bakersfield (2015).


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. He currently is leads the nation in kills (5.00, first in MPSF), is second in points (5.30, first in MPSF) and 23rd in hitting percentage (.359, 10th in MPSF). He was the MPSF Player of the Week and FloVolleyball National Player of the Week on Jan. 16 for his performances against Long Beach State (28 kills, .404, 6 digs, 2 blocks) and Cal State Northridge (19 kills, .552). 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). He missed 2 early-season 2017 matches (at Stanford and Pepperdine) with an ankle sprain.


Andy Benesh, a 6-9 senior who was sidelined for the first 5 matches of 2016 with a back injury, returned in 2017 after starting the past 3 years at middle blocker. He currently is 10th nationally in hitting percentage (.420, fifth in MPSF) and 18th in blocks (sixth in MPSF). 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).


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 currently is seventh nationally in assists (10.53, fourth in MPSF). 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 and Gianluca Grasso (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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