In their last game of the season, the No. 13 UC Irvine Men’s Volleyball team lost to No. 4 Cal State University, Long Beach.
Despite defeating UC San Diego on April 13 with a final score of 3-0, the Anteaters couldn’t keep up with the 49ers this past Saturday, April 16 at Crawford Court, losing 1-3 (26-30, 23-30, 29-31, 25-30).
The bleachers were packed as 730 fans came out to support the home team.
Both teams played hard in the first game.
It was an intense and very close battle.
The Anteaters started off behind, but didn’t trail for more than a few points the entire game.
UCI’s junior outside hitter Steffin Rangel helped the Anteaters keep up with a few key serves and spikes while sophomore outside hitter Matt Webber chalked up several kills.
The Anteaters finally caught up after a spike from sophomore middle blocker David Smith, bringing the score to 14-14.
However UCI fell behind until a service point from Rangel that led to 19-19 tie.
Play intensified until CSULB pulled ahead 25-24, staying ahead until they took the game point at 30-26 in the first set.
The second game didn’t fare as well for UCI, held back by an intense level of play brought on by the 49ers as well as several service errors.
CSULB pulled ahead leading by as much as seven points at 25-18.
Several points later, the Anteaters tried to catch up with a three-point streak, forcing CSULB to take a time-out to break pace.
UCI freshman middle blocker Aaron Harrell blocked a spike and quickly followed with a kill of his own.
UCI’s Webber would follow up with another kill, closing the gap to five points at 27-22.
This victory was short-lived, however, as the 49ers came back and dominated the rest of the game, winning 30-23 for a score of two games to zero.
Commenting on what UCI could improve on, UCI Head Coach John Speraw expected to work on the team’s serves.
‘Obviously, we’ll be working on our serves [this summer],’ Speraw said. ‘Twenty-eight service errors isn’t going to win a match.’
The third game of the match played to UCI’s favor.
The Anteaters kept strong while CSULB played with less focus than the first two games.
Highlights included several kills by UCI sophomore middle blocker Jayson Jablonsky, who racked up 20 by the end of the match, as well as several by Webber, who collected 21.
UCI barely stayed ahead until a tie at 22.
The end was close and the crowd stood and cheered for the Anteaters at game point.
The 49ers did all that they could to take it back, however, UCI junior libero Paul Spittle locked in the win with a cross-court kill, ending in a win for UCI at a close 31-29 and an overall score of 1-2.
Game four would play out much like the first, with UCI trailing just a few points the entire time.
Errors would creep up to help CSULB eventually win, with a score of 30-25.
Both teams received a standing ovation, and the crowd was clearly appreciative of the Anteaters’ fighting spirit kept through their last game.
‘Considering their season ended last week, they showed a lot of heart,’ Speraw said. ‘It’s hard when you’re not playing for anything. I want the team to get better and focus on 2006.’
Webber showed his support for the team’s performance, as well.
‘I think we played really well,’ Webber said. ‘We kept the intensity and put as much pressure on them as we could. … We’ll be ready for next year.’
Jablonsky held similar sentiments.
‘We had our chances, but played hard considering the season was over,’ Jablonsky said. ‘We’ll be training hard and getting ready for next year.’
Filed Under: Sports