Lewis Falls In National Semifinals To No. 1 USC 3-1

LOS ANGELES – No. 7 Lewis men’s volleyball saw their 2012 season come to a close on Thursday (May 3) evening in a 3-1 (25-18, 25-12, 18-25, 27-25) loss to No. 1 USC at the Galen Center on USC’s campus in the National Semifinals. It was Lewis’ first trip to the National Semifinal’s since 2004.

The Trojans took advantage of their home court by winning the first set 25-18. USC held a 5-1 blocking edge in the frame while hitting at a .462 clip. USC continued their momentum to the second set, grabbing a quick 5-0 lead thanks to the serving of AVCA National Player of the Year Tony Ciarelli. All told in the second set, USC recorded five aces. Ciarelli and Steven Shandrick each had two aces in the frame.

Lewis was the one to a quick lead in the third set, taking an 8-4 advantage and forcing USC to ask for time. It didn’t do much to slow down the Flyers as USC used their final timeout after freshman Geoff Powell (Claremont, Calif./Claremont) found the corner with an attack to put Lewis up 14-7. Powell recorded seven kills in the third set alone.

The fourth set was the tightest, featuring nine ties and a pair of lead changes. USC was the first to take a timeout in the fourth when Powell delivered an ace in the middle of the floor to put Lewis up by four points 11-7. Three Powell kills in the span of four points put the Flyers up by five points 17-12. Then USC came on, eventually tying it at 20 on a kill by Ciarelli. Another kill by Ciarelli gave the Trojans match point at 24-23. The Flyers denied a pair of USC match points on kills by junior Jay Petty (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove North). However the third match point was the charm for USC when an attempt by Powell went long.

Powell hit .355 with 17 kills and nine digs. Petty added 17 kills and seven digs.

USC out-hit Lewis .345 to .228. Ciarelli had a match-high 18 kills with 10 digs for the Trojans. Shandrick added 15 kills.

“I think you saw our guys fight," Lewis head coach Dan Friend said. "It took us a little longer that I wanted to settle down and get into the game. We knew USC would be a tough team and would bring pressure from the service line. My big thing with these guys was we needed to show how we got here and why we got her and why we belong here and you saw that. You saw the level of volleyball we’re capable of playing. You saw it go back and forth in the fourth and unfortunately we made the error and they made a good play and that’s how a game goes sometimes. I’m super proud of my guys and we showed why we belong here and what we’re capable of.”

The Trojans improve to 24-5. USC advances to Saturday’s (May 5) National Championship against UC-Irvine.

Lewis ends the season 26-7 and with the most wins in the nation.

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