Trojans open season with sweep over Alberta

first_imgThe No. 1 USC men’s volleyball team showed why it was voted as the top team in the nation.In the Trojans’ season opener at Galen Center Wednesday night, USC notched its first win of the season in an exhibition match, sweeping Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s No. 2 Alberta Golden Bears in straight sets, 25-19, 25-22, 25-18.“If we start off fast and show everybody what we can do, we’re probably not going to lose very many matches this year,” junior outside hitter Tony Ciarelli said.The Bears were expected to pull out all the stops against the Trojans after losing to both Long Beach State and Pepperdine on Alberta’s three-game Southern California exhibition series.And they did come out to play, at first.The 25-19 score belies the swing of momentum changes that occurred in the first set. While the Bears were without a block the entire set, outside hitter Jay Olmstead’s five kills and quick tips from setter Tanner Nault kept the Bears close.That was until senior middle blocker Austin Zahn destroyed any optimism in the Bears’ small lead with five kills and three blocks in the first set.“It’s always really important to come out make a statement let the other team know that we’re going to be dominant the rest of the game,” Zahn said.Zahn’s statement was clear for all to see, especially to the five other Trojans on the court, who rallied around his good play to close out the first set.“He had a monster night, attacking and blocking. He’s a big kid so when’s he’s there he’s going to get to play more often than not,” coach Bill Ferguson said.In the second set, senior opposite hitter Murphy Troy sealed the Canadian’s fate with a sharp diagonal kill that would have made a geometry teacher proud.Aside from a few missed digs and scrappy plays, the Bears’ lack of communication gave the Trojans an advantage. USC switched to an outside game that let Ciarelli free, who was hitting .818 in the first two sets.In the final set, USC’s urgency blew past Alberta, grabbing a 9-2 lead quickly. Poor defense led the Golden Bears to drop their heads a little lower with each Trojan kill. When the Bears were down 11-3 and got the next point, few of the Bears celebrated.But four Trojan serving errors and a few shanked passes later, USC’s lead closed to 20-16.USC continued to hit hard and go up for blocks through the end, and a missed serve packed Alberta’s bags.“We just wanted to start the season right,” Ciarelli said.The Trojans hope to grab their second win against the Cal State Northridge Matadors at home next Wednesday, Jan. 12.last_img read more