Both teams were pretty evenly matched last night. USC was getting the ball to Murphy Troy and Tony Ciarelli for the kills while UCI was getting blocks from Ammerman and Simmons and kills from Wilson. Both coaches pretty much had their game plans in place.
That set things up to be a tough match for both teams going all five games.
UC Irvine wanted to prove that the NCAA volleyball title it won two years ago was no fluke.
The Anteaters dispelled that notion Saturday by winning again, rallying from a 2-1 deficit to beat USC, 3-2, in the NCAA men's title match.
"That was an epic battle," UC Irvine Coach John Speraw said. "I think people could be talking about that match for a very, very long time."
Taylor Wilson had 21 kills, Ryan Ammerman finished with 55 assists and Jordan DuFault had 14 kills, including the final one to give UC Irvine a 15-12 win in the fifth game.
The Anteaters were in the volleyball Final Four for the third time in four years and added to the title they won in 2007.
Unfortunately for USC UCI was just too tough for SC to handle with their blocks and Tony Ciarelli seemed more interested in talking smack to some of the UCI fans. Three things stood out to me that contributed to USC's loss...USC also had way too many service errors many more than UCI. USC had more unforced errors than UCI and an offshoot of that were the many over passes SC committed that UCI was able to kill.
The announcers wanted to make a big deal out of altitude in regards to the service errors...I'm not buying it both teams made their fair share, SC just made more. SC is a young team with only one senior so they have some growing to do...especially Ciarelli. I have no idea what he was thinking after a solid match against PSU he let the UCI fans get in his head. They were getting the ball to him but he was not hitting the kills at the rate that SC needed him to.
When it was clear that SC was going to lose game 4 Coach Bill Ferguson pulled both troy and Ciarelli for a spell get the ready for game 5. Ferguson used this same tactic against Pepperdine last week and it worked then but Ciarelli just couldn't shake his funk last night.
The player that really showed his stuff was Riley McIbbin with 71 assists.
So, we look forward to next year and hope that USC builds from here...