Sophomore Jordan DuFault lined up his target on the opposite side of the net for the first serve of the night. His rocket was too much for Stanford’s back row to handle and Irvine went up 1-0 in the first game. DuFualt’s opening sequence of serves was blistering. He put Stanford on its heels to open the match with 5 straight points and the Anteaters never allowed them back into the match.
After an efficient opening game win, Irvine men’s volleyball took the next two to beat the Cardinals in three games, 30-25, 30-23, 30-22. This was the Anteaters’ fifth straight win and third straight victory at home. The Anteaters are now ranked third in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Aside from all of the statistical accolades this win garnered, Irvine’s execution on both offense and defense was the highlight against the Cardinals.
In the third set, Irvine put together a sequence that brought the entirety of the Irvine faithful to its feet. Irvine was up 14-9 on Stanford when it sent over a serve that set up a Stanford kill down the line. The only problem was senior Brent Asuka flying to get a big touch on the ball. The deflection off of Asuka sent the ball flying to the back corner of the Irvine side where a diving Ryan Ammerman stretched all 6 feet 8 inches of his body to lift the ball back in play. Irvine passed the ball back to Stanford, who set up an opportunity to capitalize on the now scrambling Anteater back line.
Stanford was too slow.
Ammerman got up from his sliding save and hustled back to the right side of the net in the perfect position to get the dig on a Stanford kill attempt. The dig from Ammerman turned into an assist as sophomore Kevin Wynne completed the incredible sequence by smashing in the kill to put Irvine up 15-9. The sequence was one of the more impressive efforts seen this season. It furthered the dreadful night that Stanford was experiencing and highlighted the dominant defensive effort Irvine imposed on its opponents. Irvine ended the night with an 11-7 block advantage over Stanford and recorded a total of 36 digs as a team.
Leading the Anteaters in the scoring column was senior Jon Steller and his 11 kills. Right behind him was the standout play of both senior Taylor Wilson and Wynne, who each finished with 10 kills. Junior Bryan Simmons led the team in block assists with nine as Wilson and Ammerman combined for eight block assists on Friday night.
Asuka tallied five 12 digs in an emotional match for the senior Libero. A native of Hawaii, Asuka faced six players on the Stanford squad from his hometown of Honolulu, three of which went to his rival high school.
UCI def. Pacific 30-21, 30-17, 28-30, 30-24
The third-ranked Anteaters brought down yet another team this Saturday, improving their record to 9-2 overall and 6-1 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play. Besides a small hiccup in the third game, Irvine soundly beat the Pacific Tigers 30-21, 30-17, 28-30 and 30-24.
The first game commenced with an early Irvine lead that the team maintained throughout the game. At 9-4, Pacific called a timeout to rally the team’s spirit and get them focused, but it was to no avail. Irvine’s .556 attack percentage far out-performed Pacific’s. Brent Asuka’s four digs and the team’s well-coordinated blocks also kept the Tigers down for the count.
The second game began much the same way, with Pacific again calling a timeout at 9-4. Coming out of the huddle, the ‘Eaters completely dominated, grabbing an 8-point lead that the Tigers were never to recover from. Although they showed signs of recovering, kills from Carson Clark and Taylor Wilson quickly snuffed out any chance of a comeback. The team won the game 30-17, tying the biggest win margin they’ve had all season.
The third set was much closer.After a net violation on UCI, the team seemed to lose its form and Pacific was determined to take advantage of it, snatching their first lead at 26-27 and going to win it 28-30.
Game four had a much slower startup than the previous three games; Irvine not able to find its place until an ace from Austin D’Amore set them on the right track at 12-10. That 2-point lead slowly increased to a 6-point lead that held until the end at 30-24.
Coach John Speraw was not impressed with the season-high 27 service errors from our ‘Eaters, but went on to say, “The most important thing was to get a win, and it wasn’t as pretty maybe as we hoped. We got a chance to take a look at some other guys that haven’t had as much playing time recently. [It was] good experience for them, so that’s the important thing.”
The Anteaters will go on to play UC Santa Barbara next week in an effort to add to their six-game winning streak. The game will be on Wednesday at home.
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