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Trojans rebound with key win over Long Beach State

first_imgTheir record now stands at 4-1 overall and 3-1 in conference play.The Trojans started the first set with five errors, giving Long Beach State a 4-0 lead. The Trojans rallied with blocks by junior outside hitters Cristian Rivera and Chris Lischke, followed by kills from Lischke, Rivera and sophomore outside hitter Alex Slaught to bring the game within two points.The 49ers, however, met USC’s rally with blocks and kills of their own, widening the team’s lead to 14-8. The Trojans rallied again, with four kills by freshman outside hitter Lucas Yoder thanks to three sets from junior setter Micah Christenson and one from senior libero Henry Cassiday.A kill from Rivera tied the game at 15 apiece and a block by Lischke gave the Trojans a 16-15 lead. Kills from Rivera and Slaught elevated the Trojans’ lead to 21-18. Two more blocks and a kill by Rivera set up Slaught for the game-winning kill, ending the first set in USC’s favor with a 25-19 win.Head coach Bill Ferguson acknowledged his team’s struggles in the opening set.“We weren’t executing our game plan as well as we could’ve,” Ferguson said. “We cleaned things up and we got it together and things went well for us.”The second set began evenly matched, the 49ers matching each point the Trojans scored. Kills by Yoder and Christenson kept Long Beach at bay with the game tied 10-10. Each side committed attacking and setting errors, keeping the score close.Kills from Yoder and Rivera gave the Trojans a three point lead, making the score 17-14. Kills by freshman middle blocker Andy Benesh, Yoder, Lischke and Slaught, as well as an ace from Benesh widened the Trojans’ lead, bringing the score to 23-19. After  a kill by Yoder set up game point for the Trojans. USC won 25-22 after a service error by Long Beach State ended the game.Ferguson was proud of his team’s play in the second set.“We continued to stay in our game plan,” the eighth-year coach said. “Our diggers and blockers did a great job of that. We were able to be agressive from the service line and limit their offense to two hitters.”In a must-win set for the 49ers, Long Beach quickly gained a 2-0 lead, though the Trojans were quick to close the gap and eventually gain a 5-4 lead thanks to two kills by Rivera with sets from Christenson.Errors by the Trojans kept the 49ers in the game, but kills by Rivera, Slaught and Benesh prevented Long Beach from ever gaining back its lead, keeping the score tied at eight.Due to errors committed by USC as well as key blocks by the 49ers, Long Beach was able to surge to a 14-13 lead. Despite two kills from Benesh and one from Slaught, Long Beach was able to hold off the Trojans, maintaining a 16-14 lead.Two kills by Yoder were undermined by his teammates’ mistakes, allowing Long Beach to keep its lead. Kills by Yoder and Rivera tied the game at 19, however, and an attack error by Long Beach gave USC a 20-19 lead.A service error by USC allowed Long Beach to tie the critical game at 22, followed by a kill to lift the 49ers over the Trojans, 23-22. Slaught matched a kill from Long Beach, tying the game at 24, which Yoder followed with a kill of his own, giving the Trojans a 25-24 advantage.Long Beach held off a Trojan win with kills of its own, and later tied the game at 31 apiece. Two consecutive kills by Yoder ended the third set, earning the Trojans a 33-31 victory over the 49ers.Ferguson was excited by his team’s strong play with the third set on the line.“We had great confidence and we remained aggressive,” he said. “Once we settled down on serving we were better. Our errors came from being aggressive.”Yoder led the team with 19 kills, followed closely by Rivera with 17. Christenson led the Trojans in assists and digs with 46 and 17, respectively.The pair’s play made an impact on their head coach.“Rivera was great,” Ferguson said. “He was really effective on the right side. Once he attacked well, that allowed Lucas to hit well.”The ability to bounce back from such a tough loss was the most significant part of the win for Ferguson.“We rely on our volleyball IQ and our overall ability,” the coach said. “Instead of creating opportunities to score and not executing, we had digs and converted them to kills to finish the deal.”The Trojans face Cal State Northridge on Friday at 7 p.m. in their second consecutive conference match on the road. Ferguson will make sure his team is prepared for a potential trap-game against the unranked Matadors.“Their style is different than Long Beach,” he said. “We will enjoy victory on the bus home, but back at USC we will focus. It is a great challenge and a great opportunity for us to play two different types of game plans.” Following Thursday’s home loss to Pepperdine, USC’s first loss of the season, the Trojans recovered with a three game sweep of Long Beach State on the road, winning 24-19, 25-22 and 33-31, respectively.Helping hand · Junior setter Micah Christenson had 46 assists and 17 digs in the Trojans’ straight set win over conference rival Long Beach State. – Joseph Chen | Daily Trojanlast_img read more

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