USC outside attacker Lucas Yoder lived up to the hype of being one of the top rated high school recruits in the nation.
Yoder in his college debut had a match-high 16 kills and a .609 attack percentage as No. 11 USC upset No. 7 Loyola 27-25, 18-25, 25-20, 25-15 on Saturday in Chicago.
The freshman arrived to USC (1-0, 0-0 MPSF) after being ranked as one of the top-five high school senior recruits in the nation by Volleyball Magazine. In addition, coach Bill Ferguson said interview with Off the Block during the preseason that he was impressed with Yoder’s play during the team’s training camp and went on to earn the starting spot in the Trojans’ lineup.
Loyola coach Shane Davis said he was not surprised how well Yoder played in his college debut and expected him to have that type of immediate affect on USC’s line-up. The coach also said he was impressed with how well the entire Trojans’ team played in their season opener.
“USC is a very good team,” Davis said. “They are definitely a lot higher than No. 11. They are very well balanced team and tough to slow down.”
USC out-hit Loyola .328 to .210, including a match-best .458 attack percentage in the fourth game to secure the non-conference win. Along with Yoder, outside attackers Maddison McKibbin and Alex Slaught both had nine kills against Loyola (2-1, 0-0 MIVA).
Outside attacker Joseph Smalzer in the loss had a team-high 13 kills. In addition, Loyola middle attacker Owen McAndrews added 10 kills.
The loss for Loyola comes after it opened the season with victories against No. 1 UC Irvine on Thursday and No. 3 BYU on Friday.
Davis said it was challenging for his players to play three matches in three consecutive nights, especially with BYU and UC Irvine matches being so emotionally draining for the Ramblers.
“It’s early in the season and your body is just not conditioned to go back-to-back-to-back yet given the short time we’re allowed to train,” he said. “It’s just tough. It’s tough to find the legs again. It’s tough to put the same pop on the ball.”
If it defeated USC, Loyola had a chance to become the first team from the MIVA since 1999 to be ranked No. 1 during the regular season in the national coaches poll. However, the Ramblers still have an opportunity to climb into the top five of the national rankings for the time in its program history.
Despite wanting to get the victory against USC, Davis said his team feels good about how it was able to open the season.
“We expect to win every match we go into, but it’s good to be able to get two-out-of-three matches for Ws. I think it’s a good confidence for our guys,” he said. “It’s good get those matches at home as well. It’s tough for teams to travel. It’s kind of whoever can win on the road that shows a lot with a team.”
USC will conclude its season-opening Midwest road trip when it plays No. 10 Lewis on Sunday.
Lewis following a season opening loss to UC Irvine on Wednesday upset BYU in four games on Saturday. With that victory, the MIVA improved to 4-3 against the MPSF in non-conference play during the opening week of the college men’s volleyball season.
“Our conference is getting better and able to compete at a pretty high level,” Davis said. “It was just nice to able to play these matches at home for us. We’ve been always having to go west.”