The UC Irvine Men’s Volleyball team (1-4, MPSF 0-1) squared off against UCI’s alumni team on Jan. 12 for their annual exhibition match at UCI’s Crawford Court.
After a very tight competition, the alumni defeated the current team three games to two in a best-of-five game series, rallying after being behind two sets to win, 3-2.
The match was close early on, with both teams alternating points until midway through the first game.
UCI slowly began to pull ahead of the alumni and took the first game by a well-earned four points.
Freshman outside hitter John Steller and sophomore outside hitter Jayson Jablonsky scored the majority of UCI’s points, with the help of the team’s consistent attacks from the outside corners of the net.
UCI continued the attack from the outside in the second game, taking it much easier than the first and winning the set 30-23.
However, the alumni battled back after losing the first two games and shocked UCI with a 30-23 victory in the third game.
The alumni team was much more effective at the net, particularly at blocking UCI’s attempted spikes.
Chris ‘The House’ Harger of the alumni took advantage of his great height in order to take part in the majority of net blocking.
The final two games were tense as both teams alternated scoring points to make it a close set.
The alumni took the fourth game with a final score of 33-31, making some great digs to stay alive.
The final game ended with a 15-13 score in favor of the alumni team.
‘The alumni are currently making digs that we are not,’ said UCI Head Coach Speraw of the alumni victory.
Speraw also attributed the difference in experience to the alumni’s come-from-behind victory.
‘Because of their playing experience the alumni could certainly tell where the ball was going to be played better than we could,’ Speraw said.
If the UCI team is lacking anything, it’s experience.
The team does not have any seniors and only four juniors.
The value of this game, intended to be a fun exhibition, is not taken for granted by Speraw.
‘It’s always good to get out there and see what works and what doesn’t. The practice is always good,’ Speraw said.
Throughout the game the alumni participated in some friendly taunting through the net.
The announcer of the game also referred to the alumni as ‘The Geezers’ for most of the match. Overall, the match was held in a very light-hearted atmosphere and many laughs were shared.
UCI goes on the road to face UCLA in Los Angeles on Jan. 15.
UCI is currently ranked No.11 on the USA TODAY/CSTV poll.
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