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Local Sports

Men's college volleyball: Flyers rally past Trojans in first round of NCAA championships

Lewis University's Jake Walenga returns a serve against Loyola earlier this season. The Flyers beat Southern California to advance to the semifinals on Thursday.
Lewis University's Jake Walenga returns a serve against Loyola earlier this season. The Flyers beat Southern California to advance to the semifinals on Thursday.

The sixth-seeded Lewis University’s men’s volleyball team advanced to Thursday’s semifinals of the NCAA National Championships at Long Beach State University in California after beating fourth-seeded University of Southern California by rallying from a first-set defeat for the 20-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-23 win.

Leading the way for the Flyers (26-5) were Ryan Coenen (18 kills, .297 hitting percentage, 11 digs, five blocks), Mitch Perinar (13 kills, .393 hitting percentage, six digs, seven blocks), Julian Moses (seven kills, seven digs), Tyler Mitchem (seven kills, .429 hitting percentage, two aces, three blocks), Matt Yoshimoto (41 assists, five blocks), Michael Simmons (17 digs) and TJ Murray (10 blocks).

Lewis advances to the semifinals at 7 p.m. Thursday to meet top-seeded Hawaii, with the winner advancing to the National Championship final at 7 p.m. Saturday. In the other semifinal Long Beach State will play Pepperdine or Princeton.

Pacing the Trojans (18-13) were Gianluca Grasso (16 kills), Jack Wyett (15 kills, eight digs), Ryan Moss (15 kills, .333 hitting percentage, 11 digs), Chris Hall (40 assists, six digs), Matt Douglas (six digs).

This is Lewis’ fourth NCAA appearance under coach Dan Friend.

The Flyers won their conference title and then lost to host USC in the semifinals, as the Trojans went to play in their last national finals.

In 2014, the Flyers fell, 3-1, to Penn State in the play-in match.

And then in 2015, Lewis reached its first championship match, but suffered a 3-2 loss against Loyola.

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