Last week, the men's volleyball team faced their toughest test so far this season against #2 UC Irvine, and they prevailed in a four-set battle to retain their #1 ranking in the AVCA poll. With that win and a win against #11 UCSD, the Trojans have extended their winning streak to 15 games, the longest winning streak for the program since the school-record 30-win run in 1990-91 en route to an appearance in the national title game. The victory also gives them the lead in the MPSF standings, and USC is now two wins away from securing the top seed in the conference tournament.
The game against UC Irvine was back and forth in the first set. After exchanging leads, the Trojans notched three straight points in the closing moments, giving them the gap needed to take the first set. In the second, USC went on another run, this one a 4-0 streak to give themselves a comfortable 20-15 lead that they would not let go. But in the third set, the Anteaters came out guns blazing, building a lead that got as large as six points. USC came back from a 24-21 deficit to force the set to extra points, but UC Irvine came away with the third set. Finally, in the fourth set, the Trojans woke up and put the game away, winning 25-22, 25-19, 27-29, 25-18 to improve their record to 20-4 (16-4).
Tony Ciarelli, who played in his final regular season home game as a Trojan, had a college career defining game, hitting .390 with 20 kills and 3 aces. Those aces brought his career total to 146, a new USC record.
The Trojans close out the regular season with road games against #8 Long Beach St. and #11 CSUN. The MPSF Tournament begins April 21.