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NCAA Men - 2012 Road to the Final Four

UCI Rises to The Occasion and Wins Third Title in Six Years

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For most of the season it looked as if the USC Trojans had the national championship locked up. But a late surge by an upstart UCI squad changed everything. The Anteaters had to bite and scratch for every win, but they did what they had to do to win the tight matches and ended up the 2012 National Champions. Here is a look at the coverage of the 2012 playoffs and the Road to the Final Four.

1. UCI Wins 2012 National Title

It seems a bit of a shame to call this one a sweep. Somehow, the NCAA men's final packed just about everything into just three sets – big leads, momentum changes, comebacks, long rallies, hot hands, questionable calls, alternating set points, pancakes and a crazy backhanded flipper. In the end, after nearly two hours of play in front of an unusually large crowd, UCI was the team celebrating wildly on the court as USC, the MPSF regular season champs, watched

2. Ciarelli's Last Chance

As the 2012 NCAA Championship looms for the top men’s teams, it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to bring home the trophy more than USC’s Tony Ciarelli. As one of only two seniors on this hot-handed Trojan squad, Ciarelli knows the agony of defeat better than any current player could. USC's last national championship was 22 years ago, all the way back in 1990. Will this be the year that Ciarelli and his Trojans finally take home the trophy?

3. NCAA Men: Road to the Final Four

We got our first taste of playoff action over the weekend, but there were no big surprises. In MPSF action, we bid farewell to Pepperdine, Long Beach State, CSUN and UCLA. The MPSF semis begin on Thursday at USC and will feature Stanford vs. BYU and USC vs. UCI.

4. Early Exit for Scates and Bruins

Legendary head coach Al Scates officially concluded his illustrious 50-year career over the weekend, but his Bruins were unable to deliver a fitting ending. This was an up and down season for UCLA, which started out at No. 3, then for four weeks found itself ranked No. 1 nationally, and then slid back down to No. 5 by season's end.

5. USC Gets Second Shot at Title

The men's final four will take place at USC starting on Thursday and thanks to the at-large bid, the home team will be participating. The Trojans, the MPSF regular season champs, were eliminated in the tournament by UCI in a tight five set match but for the second year in a row, they'll get a second chance. UCI will enter the Final Four as the No. 1 seed and USC will be No. 2.

6. 9,612

I just have to take a moment to pay homage to the crowd last weekend for the men's NCAA final match between UCI and USC. Whenever nearly 10,000 souls purpose to attend a men's match, we should take the time to acknowledge and celebrate it.

7. Speraw Headed to Westwood

Well, it's official. John Speraw is now the head coach for the UCLA Bruins, his alma mater. Next year, he'll replace the legendary Al Scates at the helm of the men's team. Here is his first video interview wearing powder blue. That's going to take some getting used to.

8. NCAA Men: Crunch Time

It's time to see who has what it takes to contend for the 2012 national title. The MPSF and MIVA Conference tournaments start this Friday and Saturday. It was a tight race for the top seeds out west, with a three-way tie for second place in the MPSF.

9. The Match with Three Endings

The top ten teams remained unchanged on the AVCA poll this week, but the news of the week was a controversial call that led to one of the strangest endings in volleyball history. It's too complicated to explain here so check out this account of what happened. Suffice it to say that the match had three endings. First BYU won, then UCLA, then BYU again.

10. USC Breaks Through

And just like that, men's volleyball has its fifth number new number one this season. USC now tops the AVCA poll for the first time after beating Stanford in four sets and benefiting from some key losses.

11. All-Time Men's Volleyball National Champions

Find out who won the national title each year since the match has been played along with Final Four appearances by school and the leaders in championships.
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