The ninth-ranked UC Irvine men’s volleyball upset third-ranked Long Beach State in dramatic fashion on Thursday at the Bren Events Center.
It was the first time this season that the Anteaters won a five-gamer. After suffering heartbreaking losses to teams like Brigham Young University and UCLA, the Anteaters would not let the 49ers take the fifth game.
Jon Stellar led UCI with 26 kills. He hit an impressive .500 for the match. Corey Yoder added 14 kills and four blocks. The Anteaters were encouraged by the performance of Taylor Wilson, who recorded seven kills and 10 digs off the bench.
Wilson was one of the more experienced Anteaters coming into this season and an integral part of last year’s championship team. A leg injury early in the season set him back, but Wilson’s performance on Thursday should be a step forward for his recovery and the hopes of the team.
Libero Brent Asuka tallied 11 digs, and Kevin Wynne pounded a match-high five block assists. Anthony Spittle took over at setter for the final three games and dished out 30 assists.
Sparked by three service aces, Long Beach State jumped to an early 10-4 lead in game one. The Beach never looked back as they won game one easily 30-22 behind Dean Bittner’s eight kills.
The Anteaters hung on close to the 49ers in game two. Long Beach was up 7-6 when it went on a three streak. UCI fought back till they made it 23-21 in the 49ers’ favor. Long Beach State then went on a tear as they took the second game 30-22.
UCI turned things around in game three and jumped to an early lead of their own at 16-13. Long Beach State relentlessly fought back and went on a 6-3 run to make it 19-19. Following a 49er service error, Yoder fired away a kill that put the Anteaters up 24-21. UCI would eventually win the game 30-26, but not without the help of seven service errors by their rivals.
The teams began game four neck-and-neck at 12-12. UCI then strung together a 6-2 run to only see Long Beach respond with three unanswered points to cut the UCI lead to 25-23. A service error cooled the 49er attack and the Anteaters went on to win game four by the score of 30-27.
Long Beach State pulled out to a 6-4 lead in the fifth and deciding game, but then a couple of clutch kills by Yoder brought the lead back to the Anteater side at 8-7. UCI never let the lead slip away, and Yoder fittingly fired the match winner at 15-12.
UCI Loses to UCSD (33-31, 25-30, 24-30, 30-25, 15-11)
The UC San Diego men’s volleyball team won its school-record ninth victory on Saturday night at the RIMAC Arena against the ninth-ranked UC Irvine Anteaters.
The Anteaters, coming off their first five-set victory against No. 3-Long Beach State, lost to UCSD 33-31, 25-30, 24-30, 30-25, 15-11.
With the win, the Tritons have now swept UCI in the 2008 season and improved their record to 9-15 overall and 5-13 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play. The Anteaters now stand at 12-13 overall and 8-10 in MPSF play.
Despite the loss, there were still some bright spots for the Anteaters. Senior Aaron Harrell set the school record with match-hitting percentage at 1.000 by converting 13 of 13 kill attempts.
Jon Stellar led UCI with 22 kills, and Jordan DuFault showered 14 of his own. Libero Brent Asuka ended the game with 16 digs.
UCI had game one in its hands as it led 29-27. However, following a service error and attack error the game was tied up at 29. UCI had game point on a Yoder kill, but only saw itself commit three consecutive hitting errors to give UCSD the game at 33-31.
UCI found itself in an early 8-2 deficit in game two. The Anteaters then went on an 8-2 run of its own behind the services of Stellar and Kevin Wynne and tied the game at 10. After tying the match up, DuFault provided the spark off the bench by pounding five kills, and Aaron Harrell went on a hitting tear by converting three kill attempts to give the Anteaters the 30-25 win.
UCI was in control in game three. They hit an impressive .323, while UCSD hit .188. UCI did see a 12-6 lead dissolve toward the end of the match. But the Anteaters managed to hang on for the 30-24 win.
In game four, the teams went neck and neck, rattling off points left and right. There were 10 lead changes in the game before either team reached 25, at which point UCSD caught fire and scorched the Anteaters with five straight points to take the game 30-25 and force a deciding game five.
UCSD carried its momentum into game five by building a quick 5-2 lead. The Anteaters would rally back and bring the score to 12-11 in the Tritons favor. UCI made itself its own enemy as the Tritons scored the next three points, capitalizing off three UCI errors. The Tritons took the game and the match with a 15-11 fifth set victory.
UCI will play its final home game on Tuesday, April 1 at the Bren Events Center against No.1-ranked Cal State Northridge.
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