Trojan duo bounced from World Games beach volleyball tournament

Two USC players’ run at the World University Games beach volleyball tournament ended two matches short of a medal.

The United States team of Trojans outside attacker Tony Ciarelli and setter Jeff Carlson lost two matches Wednesday in Shenzhen, China to be eliminated from the international tournament.

Ciarelli and Carlson opened the day losing their fourth-round match to Poland’s Michal Kadziola and Jakub Szalankiewicz 26-24, 21-16. The loss dropped the U.S. pair into the consolation bracket, where they lost their next match to Russia’s Sergey Prokopyev and Yury Bogatov 21-19, 21-15 and finished the tournament tied for fifth place.

This was the third time Ciarelli and Carlson played the Russians at the World University Games. Ciarelli and Carlson defeated Kadziola and Szalankiewicz earlier this week to advance to the third round of the tournament.

Ciarelli and Carlson’s fifth-place finish is one of the best U.S. finishes at a World University tournament in recent years. The top U.S. beach volleyball team at the 2010 World University Championships, Mark Van Zweiten and Stafford Slick, finished in seventh place.

Ciarelli, a Second-Team All-American, started all but one match for the Trojans in 2011 and was in the nation’s top 25 with a 3.61 kills per game average. The junior is also one of three starters returning for USC after the Trojans reached the 2011 Final Four and became the first team in 15 years to be ranked No. 1 throughout the entire regular season.

Carlson, a sophomore, came off the bench and played sporadically for USC last season. He will likely compete this preseason for the Trojans’ open starting setter position.

Along with Ciarelli and Carlson, the U.S. team of UC Irvine outside attacker Connor Hughes and USC outside attacker Maddison McKibbin lost their consolation match Wednesday to finish the World University Games tied for seventh place.

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