UCI over Pepperdine (3-1)
The 10th-ranked UC Irvine men’s volleyball team got back on track by upsetting second-ranked Pepperdine University at Firestone Fieldhouse on Wednesday. The Anteaters won in convincing fashion, taking the victory in four games (33-31, 30-21, 27-30, 30-27).
With the win, UCI improves to 4-5 overall and 2-3 in Mount Pacific Sports Federation play. It was the first loss of the year for Pepperdine, who is now 4-1 overall and 4-1 in MPSF play.
Pepperdine defeated UCI last April in five sets at the Bren Events Center when the teams were ranked one and two. However, the Anteaters exacted revenge when they defeated Pepperdine at the MPSF tournament only to head to the NCAA tournament.
The Anteaters dominated again last Wednesday. Head Coach John Speraw’s presence had an immediate impact, as he had returned to the team a game earlier. The win was Speraw’s 100th career victory at UCI (100-59).
In game one, UCI found itself in a 17-12 deficit. The Anteaters fought back to bring the score to 29-27 with Pepperdine having the edge. The Anteaters tied the match up on a service error from Pepperdine and a kill from Aaron Harrell. A couple of Pepperdine attack errors and a block by Cory Yoder gave UCI the 33-31 victory.
The Anteaters dominated in game two. The Anteaters out-hit Pepperdine .375 to .079. Taylor Wilson and Yoder had five and four kills in the game, respectively.
In game three, Pepperdine jumped out to an early 5-1 lead, and failed to trail the rest of the game. UCI managed to bring the game to within one at 27-26, but could not take the victory.
The Anteaters took care of business in game four. They jumped out to an early 6-2 lead and never looked back. Their calm and focused play, coupled with some Pepperdine errors, guided them to a 30-27 victory.
Wilson led all players with a career-best 24 kills. Carroll and Yoder each added 14 kills. Harrell added 10 kills and seven blocks of his own. Libero Brent Asuka recorded a season-high 15 digs and setter Anthony Spittle tallied a career-high 68 assists in the upset victory.
UCI vs. USC (3-1)
On Friday night, the UCI freshmen assured us that the men’s volleyball program is here to stay, even after the graduation of four All-Americans a year ago.
Tenth-ranked UCI defeated 11th-ranked USC (30-28, 30-26, 27-30, 30-24) Friday night at the Galen Center behind career highs from Yoder and Wynne. Yoder recorded career-high 16 kills, hitting .469 (16-1-32), while Wynne hit .533 (9-1-15), striking a career-best nine kills.
In game one, the two teams found themselves in a 26-26 tie, until two attack errors from the Trojans gave the Anteaters a 28-26 advantage. A kill by Wilson gave UCI match point at 29-27. Yoder’s kill gave UCI a 30-28 game-one victory.
UCI was lead by Wilson in game two. He recorded seven kills in a 30-26 game-two victory.
USC woke up in game three. Behind stellar play from freshman Murphy Troy, the Trojans went on a 5-0 run to open the match. They eventually won the match 30-27, preventing the Anteater sweep.
In game four, the Anteaters came out with a 6-2 lead early on. However, a couple USC runs brought them to within one at 19-18. UCI caught fire and fired four straight points to give them a nice 23-19 cushion. They went on to win the match comfortably at 30-24.
With the second win of the week, UCI improves to .500 at 5-5 overall and 3-3 in MPSF.
Wilson led UCI with 19 kills. Wynne and Harrell led the team with six blocks each. Carroll added 12 kills and Asuka had a team high 13 digs. Spittle tallied 57 assists.
Halting the three-game losing streak has re-installed the confidence for the Anteaters and Speraw.
‘This team knows how to win