LONG BEACH, Calif. – The No. 6 Lewis men's volleyball team rallied for a 3-1 win over the No. 4 Southern California Trojans in the NCAA Opening Round match on Tuesday (April 30) at Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif. The Flyers improve to 26-5 on the season while the Trojans end their season with a mark of 18-11.
USC jumped out to an early 3-0 lead to begin the match and never trailed in the opening set as Lewis was held to a .214 hitting percentage. The Flyers got as close as one several times but were never able to get over the hump. The Trojans led by as many as six in the stanza before winning 25-20.
Lewis used a 6-1 run midway through set two to break an 8-8 tie and took a 14-9 lead as the its defense recorded three blocks in the run and forced USC to hit into two other errors. Mitch Perinar (Channahon, IL/Minooka) also had a pair of kills in the run.
The Trojans cut it to four on three different occasions but the Flyers were able to close out the set by scoring four of the final five points to win 25-18 to even the match at a set apiece.
Lewis led wire-to-wire in set three racing out to an early 6-2 lead and never let USC get closer than four points during the frame as it went onto win 25-19. The Flyers hit .414 in the stanza and were led by Ryan Coenen (Franklin, WI/Franklin) with seven kills while Perinar added four more.
The fourth set featured 10 ties and five lead changes. Lewis held an 18-15 lead but the Trojans refused to go away answering with a 7-2 run to grab a 22-20 lead and force the Flyers to call a timeout. Lewis responded out of the timeout getting back-to-back kills from Coenen and Mitchem to even the set at 22-all.
Jack Wyett put USC ahead with a kill but the Flyers scored the final three points of the set to win 25-23. Mitchem had a kill and Lewis' defense recorded back-to-back blocks to end the match.
The Flyers outhit the Trojans in the contest .289-to-.238 and forced USC into 24 hitting errors. Coenen and Perinar led the way for Lewis with 18 and 13 kills respectively. Matt Yoshimoto (Ventura, CA/Adolfo Camarillo) had 41 assists and Michael Simmons (Aurora, IL/Waubonsie Valley) had a match-high 17 digs. As a team the Flyers recorded a season-best 17.5 total blocks. TJ Murray (Barrington, IL/Barrington HS) accounted for 10 of those while Perinar finished with seven total blocks.
The Trojans were led by Gianluca Grasso with 16 kills while Wyett and Ryan Moss had 15 kills apiece. Chris Hall handed out 40 assists and Moss had a team-high 11 digs.
Lewis advances to the semifinals of the National Collegiate Volleyball Championships to take on No. 1 Hawaii on Thursday (May 2) at 7 p.m. CST/5 p.m. PST.