The UC Irvine Men’s Volleyball team fought their way through USC and recorded a spectacular win against the Trojans 30-27, 30-23, 33-35, 26-30 and 15-13 at Crawford Court on Jan. 30. After a discouraging loss against top-ranked Pepperdine the Wednesday before, the Anteaters were ready to make up for the loss and take on the Trojans.
For the first two sets, Irvine won 30-27 in game one and 30-23 in game two. Hyped and ready to sweep USC in three games, the Trojans surprised UCI with a win in game three with a score of 33-35.
From then on, the Anteaters realized the importance of finishing strong.
‘We started off really well at the beginning but we didn’t do what we needed to do right away [in game three],’ said freshman middle blocker David Smith. ‘But then we did a good job at getting back and pulling it together at the end of the game.’
And that is exactly what the Anteaters did as they won the next two games 30-26 and 15-13.
As UCI continued to fight for a win, USC matched that same strength, working the UCI defense and front row.
‘The defense was great tonight and the blocking efforts were great as well,’ said Head Coach John Speraw. ‘We got to touch the ball a lot in this game.’
Senior libero Greg Ford led the team in game five with 13 recorded digs when a win was within grasp for UCI. The Trojans fired kill after kill but still, the Anteater defense continued to be tireless. Even USC Head Coach Turhan Douglas agreed with Speraw.
‘UC Irvine had a relentless defense which put them over us. They’re really good at all aspects, but most especially the defense,’ Douglas said.
With a tireless defense and extraordinary blocking in the front row, UCI was too much for USC. Senior middle blocker Kyle Weichert and many other key players set the UCI blocking standards as they set up walls against the USC offense.
In game five, the score was tied 12-12 and tension was building for both teams. Weichert stepped up and after two attempts at blocking, a third block put USC down and Irvine broke the 12-12 tie.
‘If you feed the big dog, he’ll guard the yard,’ Weichert said.
Nonetheless, USC put out a great game.
‘USC performed well,’ Speraw said. ‘They kept the momentum going for us.’
Such momentum kept the audience on their toes and guessing as they wondered who was going to take each match. Although, it was much anticipated that Irvine would win in three games, USC fought well to bring the match to five games.
‘Some would say a 15-13 match indicates a bad game but I think it doesn’t,’ Speraw said. ‘USC was scrapping for points and playing well.’
With away games all next week at Northridge and Santa Barbara, Friday’s game set
a great vibe of energy for the entire team.
‘Today was just a fun game and it’ll give us more momentum for next week’s road trip,’ Weichert said.