UC Irvine 3
UC Irvine’s sophomore outside hitter Taylor Wilson and senior opposite Matt Webber were what the Anteaters needed to push them to a 3-1 victory over 14th-ranked University of Southern California last Wednesday. The win knocked USC to a 2-5 overall record while the Anteaters continued their winning streak and left the Bren Events Center with an overall record of 9-0.
‘Wilson had a career high in kills and we did a decent job blocking,’ said UCI Head Coach John Speraw. ‘I think we are making progress responding to pressure.’
Wilson, who has averaged 1.03 kills per game, left Wednesday night after tying his career-high record of 18 kills in addition to his three aces and five digs. Webber also accumulated 18 kills during the match and added an additional nine digs and three blocks.
Reigning National Player of the Week, Jayson Jablonsky, tied his career-high of 11 digs in addition to collecting 16 kills. The senior outside hitter also added two aces and three blocks for the Anteaters. Nick Spittle recorded eight digs, a career best for the sophomore libero that had his first start on Wednesday night.
UCI ended game one in a 30-16 victory after grabbing an early 6-1 lead. USC struck back in game two, capturing a narrow 14-11. However, UCI retaliated with a kill from senior setter Brian Thornton after a pair of kills from Webber. After breaking free of an 18-18 tie, the Trojans rallied UCI to a 29-26 lead. A kill by USC’s sophomore outside hitter C.J. Schellenberg would end the game in favor of the Trojans, pushing the score to 30-28.
‘We didn’t play our best coming out,’ Thornton said.
‘In game two things didn’t go too well but we can’t be afraid of making mistakes,’ Speraw said. ‘We have to stay aggressive and once we recognized that we were able to adjust.’
The Anteaters returned to game three with an aggressive attitude, catching an early 11-7 lead. Despite a four-point rally from the Trojans, Irvine took a 21-20 lead courtesy of a kill by senior David Smith.
A 5-5 tie early in game four made it look as though UCI and USC were about to face another round of back-and-fourth play. However, UCI attacked with a 10-4 run that put them in the lead 15-9. A final score of 30-20 would give the last game to UCI and end the match in a 3-1 victory.
Unfortunately, UCI wasn’t able to continue their momentum Saturday against fifth-ranked Pepperdine Waves. The 1,439 people in attendance witnessed the Waves shatter UCI’s undefeated record with a 3-0 sweep at the Bren Center, dropping UCI to a 9-1 overall record and a 5-0 record in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
Webber came out big again for UCI, leaving the match with 16 kills. Junior middle blocker Aaron Harrell had a team-high of four blocks while Spittle added 10 digs.
However, the loss was not a total disappointment for the team. Jablonsky added three service aces, tying him with the UCI career record of 93, which was set by former Anteater Jimmy Pelzel in his 2001-2004 career.
UCI was outscored 9-5 in game one, which ended with a 30-26 win for the Waves. In the second game, Pepperdine took a 28-26 lead late in the game, and a UCI hitting error ended the game in a 30-27 loss. Pepperdine took a 21-14 lead in game three, not allowing the Anteaters to get within three points of their lead for the remainder of the game, which ended at 30-23.
The Anteaters will return to play against Princeton on Tuesday.