No. 11 Southern California Rallies to Upset No. 5 Pepperdine


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Malibu, Calif. - Juan Figueroa had 29 kills to help the No. 11-ranked USC men's volleyball team overcome a 2-0 deficit and post a dramatic comeback upset win at No. 5 Pepperdine, 31-33, 25-30, 30-27, 31-29, 17-15, in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match on Saturday (April 5).

USC, which captured its third game in a row to advance its cause of qualifying for the 8-team MPSF tournament, defeated the Waves in Malibu for the first time since 1999, ending a 9-match losing skid there.

The Trojans improved to 13-13 overall and 10-10 in the MPSF, while Pepperdine fell to 12-9 and 11-9.

Figueroa was one of 5 Trojans to reach double figures in kills, joining Murphy Troy (18, with 8 digs), Andrew Vernon (14 off the bench on .545 hitting), Hunter Current (13) and Tri Bourne (11, with 20 digs).

Pepperdine was led by Paul Carroll, who had a match-high 33 kills. Teammate Cory Riecks added 23 kills while hitting .500.

In the decisive fifth game, USC took a 3-1 lead after a block by Figueroa and Vernon, then went up 5-2 after a service ace by Jimmy Killian. Pepperdine was able to tie the match at 8-8 after consecutive Trojan hitting errors. After a USC timeout, however, the Trojans scored the next two points on a Troy kill and a Wave attack error to retake a two-point lead at 10-8, and then went up 12-9. The Waves came back again, as Riecks had a pair of kills and Pepperdine tied the match at 13-13. Tied 15-15, USC ended the match with kills by Troy and Current. Troy had a team-high four kills in game five and USC had a .217-.150 edge in hitting.

Pepperdine appeared headed to a quick victory after winning the first 2 games. Game one was tied 20-20, but the Waves scored five of the next six points to make it 25-21. The Trojans were undeterred and rallied to tie the game at 27-27. Even though Pepperdine had game point at 29-27, USC tied it again after back-to-back kills by Figueroa. Pepperdine finally ended game one after a kill by Carroll and a solo block by Mark Hulse. The Waves outhit the Trojans .464 to .279. Figueroa had 10 kills in game one.

The Waves took a quick 4-1 lead in game two as Carroll had a pair of kills. Their biggest lead was seven points at 15-8 and 16-9. The Trojans tried to rally late and got to within three points, first at 21-18 and last at 28-25, but Carroll ended the game with a kill and a service ace. Carroll had seven kills in game two. Hitting percentages dipped to .258 for Pepperdine and .129 for USC.

The Trojans got off to the fast start in game three and led 6-2. Pepperdine rallied to tie the game at 10-10 and it stayed tied at every other point until it was 19-19, when the Trojans scored twice to make it 21-19. Later, back-to-back kills by Figueroa made it 27-23, and USC held on to claim game three. Hitting percentages were almost identical, with the Trojans holding a .457-.452 edge. Carroll had a game-high eight kills.

The Waves could have put the Trojans away in game four, as they held two match points at 29-27. But Figueroa nailed two straight kills, and after a Pepperdine attack error, Figueroa sent down yet another kill to finish the 4-0 run and earn a game four win for USC. The Trojans outhit the Waves .444 to .286. Carroll had 10 kills in game four.

USC concludes its regular season with a pair of MPSF matches at BYU on Friday and Saturday (April 11 and 12).

Article courtesy of Southern California Athletics.

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