Sideline Observations: USC finds offensive balance in upset of Stanford

Brandon Johnson | Off the Block special contribuor

LOS ANGELES — After a timeout, No. 6/6 Stanford had the serve down 24-23 trying to stay in the match down two games. Everyone in the gym knew the ball was going to Lucas Yoder.


The All-MPSF outside attacker is the heart and soul of the Trojans and has been carrying the heavy workload all season.

A perfect pass set the stage for the moment everyone was expecting-Yoder would finish the match and the Trojans would be celebrating. Instead, the quick set went to surprise starter Ryan Moss who hammered the ball to the floor to finish off the 3-0 sweep. Set scores were 25-19, 25-20, 25-23.

It was that kind of a night for the Trojans as they found the balance they’ve been missing most of the season.

Yoder finished strong, ending with 15 kills while hitting .222, but his uncharacteristic slow start allowed his teammates to step up. Outside attacker Wood Cook tallied 10 kills on a .316 attack percentage, and middle attacker Andy Benesh had an errorless seven kills on 13 swings.

The Trojans out-hit the Cardinal .286 to .089.

“Lucas is great, he is our workhorse,” Cook said. “I just gotta give him some relief every once in awhile.”

Yoder entered this conference match leading the nation with a 5.00 kills per game average and his 388 swings were almost 200 more than any other player on the USC roster.

It was that relief that opened the holes for Yoder later in the match as he hammered six kills in the deciding third game.

It was an all around slow night for the Cardinal who were led by Jordan Ewert’s 12 kills. But he only hit .156 as he was consistently slowed down by the Trojans’ block. The Cardinal made a total of 24 attack errors on the night.

“We did a good job on the block and defensive side of things. We need to get more stuff blocks… so we don’t have to worry about digging so much,” USC coach Jeff Nygaard said.

It was quite an impressive sweep for the Trojans that were hoping to find success through more balance.

“We have some offensive weaponry we can use around [Yoder]. Gert [Lisha] made a lot of really great choices. He’s maturing for us,” Nygaard said.

The Trojans improve their record to 4-9 overall, 3-7 MPSF. USC continues MPSF action on Saturday when it plays host Pepperdine.

On the other side, the Cardinal drop to 8-5 overall, 5-3 MPSF. Stanford will return to the court on Saturday as it travels to Riverside, California, to face Cal Baptist.

Brandon Johnson is a special contributor for Off the Block. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of Off the Block.