by David Portney
Friday night in beautiful Southern California featured one of, if not the best match of the men’s season so far. It had the #1 USC Trojans traveling to Long Beach to take on the #6 49ers. It took five sets to decide, but USC came out on top (23-25, 25-20, 25-23, 23-25, 15-12) in front of a boisterous crowd of 1,218.
The Trojans had a total of four players with double-digit kills as Tony Ciarelli (left) led the way with 17, Austin Zahn added 14, Tri Bourne had 13 and Murphy Troy finished with 12.
Long Beach State also had four players with double digit kills: Jim Baughman (right) – 21, Taylor Crabb – 16, Brad Hemmerling – 11, Ryan Meehan – 10.
The box score can be found HERE
We also have a special treat for today’s blog. A friend of mine and resident Southern California native Sam Dores (right) attended the match, and I figured it would be best if he put in his two cents instead of me, who’s 2,000 miles away.
Sam was raised in San Diego, attended UCLA for his undergrad and UC San Diego for his post-grad work. He currently is an Events Operations Coordinator at Long Beach State University, so it’s safe to say SoCal is in his blood.
Without further ado:
“Friday night’s game pitted the Long Beach State 49ers, who haven’t lost at home playing host to the USC Trojans, who have only lost once anywhere. It also reunited LBSU assistant coach John Hawks, with his former team and his highly ranked recruiting classes who have led USC to their top season. All of this led to the largest crowd of the season for the 49ers, and the crowd wasn’t disappointed with the five-set thriller. The crowd began filing in more than an hour before the game started and long lines at the ticket windows kept the crowd coming in long past the start of the first game. Cheers were loud for both teams after each point, especially with a strong USC fan base in attendance. The 49ers band and marketing department kept the crowd entertained with music between each point and the tense play throughout the entire match kept the players in angst and the fans on the edge of their seats.
The highlight of the night came between the second and third set when the 1991 Long Beach State National Championship Team took the court to a standing ovation from all the fans. That team featured two First-Team All-Americans and Coach of the Year, Ray Ratelle. Joining them was Alan Knipe who played on the ’91 team under Ratelle and later took over for him in 2001 as coach of the 49ers. Knipe is currently on leave from the school to coach the US National Team as it heads towards the 2012 Olympics in London. Even with the loss, it was an overall successful night for Long Beach State and all the fans who were witness to a roller coaster evening of thrills and disappointments.”
Well there you have it, thanks Sam! Your Pulitzer Prize is in the mail.
Hopefully now that he has his foot in the door of volleyblogging (can I take credit for that term, or has it been around awhile?), he can contribute more often to this blog as the AVCA spreads its tentacles to the west coast (or as Sam would say, the best coast).
Anyway, make sure you listen to “The Net Live” today (Monday) at 1:30 ET as the guys will certainly go deeper into this match.
Looking ahead to next weekend, as the late Keith Jackson would say “whoooooooaaaaaa, nellie” do we have quite a matchup. How does #1 vs. #2 sound? #1 USC returns home to take on #2 BYU for back-to-back MPSF matches on Friday (March 4) and Saturday (March 5). Former Trojan All-Americans and Olympians Dusty Dvorak and Celso Kalache will have their jerseys retired following the March 5th match.
Stay tuned as later today we’ll release the new AVCA poll!