The best serving team in the nation saved its biggest serve for when it mattered most.
Middle attacker Dan McDonnell had a match-winning ace in the third game overtime as UC Irvine swept USC 25-22, 34-32, 26-24 on Saturday in Los Angeles to win the 2012 NCAA championship.
The Anteaters, which led the nation in aces and aces per game average during the regular season, ended the championship match with six aces. In addition, outside attacker Carson Clark had a match-high three aces in the victory.
UC Irvine out-hit USC .320 to .297 to capture its third national championship in the last six years.
The Anteaters had three players finish with double-digit kills. Clark had a match-high 22 kills, while outside attacker Connor Hughes had 13 kills and outside attacker Kevin Tillie added 11 kills.
Setter Chris Austin also contributed leading all players with 15 digs.
USC outside attacker Tony Ciarelli, the 2012 National Player of the Year, had a team-high 18 kills in the loss.
This is the second time in the last four years that the Anteaters have defeated the Trojans in the national championship match. UC Irvine rallied to beat USC in five games to capture the 2009 NCAA championship.
With this victory, UC Irvine joins UCLA, USC, Pepperdine and BYU as the only schools with at least three men’s volleyball NCAA championships. In addition, John Speraw becomes the fourth men’s volleyball head coach to win at least three NCAA titles.