The men’s volleyball team reigned in the New Year with force and determination as they came out of the gate strong with four wins and just one loss. Prior to the New Year, the ’Eaters won two games on the road in an international tournament on Dec. 28, the first game against the University of British Columbia and the second against Red Deer College at Crawford Court. Both ended in triumph with 3-0 as the final score.
On New Year’s Day, the Men’s volleyball team won their first game of 2014 against Lewis with the final score of 3-1.
While battling it out against British Columbia, several players stood out such as first-year opposite Tamir Hershko who had 11 kills, outside hitter Travis Woloson who had 8 kills and middle blocker Andrew Benz who finished with 6 kills. Second-year middle blocker Jason Agopian added 8 kills.
Red Deer College proved to be a close match as each set ranged between four to five points. In the first match against the Kings, junior Zack La Cavera switched out of his libero jersey to play opposite and brought in 12 kills. Following him, Dejno had a total of 10 kills while our seniors, outside hitter Jeremy Hershko and middle blockers Scott Kevorken and Collin Mehring, each contributed 5 kills. The ’Eaters were able to close out both games with a score of 3-0.
Repping Anteater pride across the country, our men’s volleyball team defeated Lewis in Romeoville, Illinois on Jan. 1. Proving to be a difficult match between the No. 1 and No. 10 teams in the nation, UC Irvine did not go down without a fight. Top scorers included Dejno and La Cavera with 14 kills each. Senior outside hitter Connor Hughs contributed 9 kills and 6 digs and first-year Michael Saeta had a total of 30 set assists and a career-high of 11 digs and 3-block assists. Libero, Michael Brinkley, contributed with 8 digs. In the first set, Flyers closed out the match leading with 25-21, but the ’Eaters came back and won the next three sets consecutively with the scores 25-19, 26-24 and 25-23. It was a close game, but UCI managed to come out victorious after a service error made by Lewis ended the game.
In their first loss of the season, the ’Eaters gave it their all against no. 7 Loyola Chicago as they took the game to five sets. Outside hitter Dejno stood out with 15 kills, two aces and three block assists while Hershko had his career-best with 14 kills and opposite La Cavera added 11 kills. Mehring had eight kills and a team-high of four block and Kevorken had seven kills. With a match-best of 16 digs from Brinkley and 40 set assists, five digs and three blocks from Saeta. It was a very close game as the ’Eaters won the first and fourth sets while the Ramblers’ took the second and third bringing it out to the fifth and final set. UCI led 5-3 until Loyola won four straight points taking the lead with 7-5 and never fell behind again. Ramblers’ ended the set, 15-12 and won the game 3-2.
The ’Eaters came out strong in the following match, beating Ball State 3-0 in Muncie, IN. La Cavera dominated with 18 kills, two aces, seven digs, and four total blocks.
The Anteaters continue to hold the No. 1 spot in the AVCA Division I-II Men’s Coaches Top 15 Preseason Poll and are ranked No. 3 in the MPSF Coaches’ Poll. Under Head Coach David Kniffen and Assistant Coaches Mark Presho and Armen Zakarian, the Anteaters are expected to defend their coveted No. 1 spot in the nation and hopefully win their third title in a row. ’Eaters will travel to Pepperdine for their next game on Jan. 10.