UCI loses (30-27, 30-24, 30-26)
Coming off two tough losses to number-one ranked Brigham Young University at the Bren Events Center this past weekend, the seventh-ranked UC Irvine Anteaters bounced back with a sweep over 14th-ranked UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, but not before they were swept by fourth-ranked Cal State Northridge on Wednesday at the Matadome.
Despite out-hitting (.318-.300) and out-blocking Northridge (11.5-6.5), the Anteaters lost 30-27, 30-24, 30-26. The difference, however, was that the Matadors fired 15 more kills and five service errors to UCI’s zero.
Thanks in large part to North-ridge’s Eric Vance, who pounded a match-high 23 kills, the Matadors controlled the match from the beginning and never looked back.
Jon Stellar led the Anteaters with 16 kills, while hitting an impressive .517 percent for the match. Corey Yoder recorded 12 kills, and Aaron Harrell recorded a match-high six blocks.
Setter Ryan Ammerman had a season-low 23 assists in matches where he played more than two sets, and libero Brent Asuka had a match-high 10 digs.
UCI wins (30-23, 30-25, 30-28)
After losing to first-ranked BYU and fourth-ranked Cal State Northridge, the Anteaters took their frustrations out on 14th-ranked UCSB on Saturday at the Bren Events Center.
The Anteaters swept the Gauchos in straight sets (30-23, 30-25, 30-28). Stellar led the Anteaters with 16 kills, but was backed by a balanced attack. Cole Reinholm recorded nine kills and Harrell had eight kills.
Kevin Wynne and Yoder added seven kills apiece. Ammerman had a solid all-around performance as he totaled 41 assists, three service aces, eight digs and three block assists. Libero Asuka had a match-high 13 digs.
Game one was a piece of cake for the Anteaters as they recorded 13 kills en route to a 30-23 win.
In game two, the Anteaters found themselves in an 18-14 deficit. UCI then rallied 5-1 to tie the game up at 19.
With the score at 22, Ammerman stepped up and scored five straight points for the Anteaters on three service aces and two Gaucho attack errors. Stellar would eventually cap the game on a kill at 30-25.
UCSB led 22-18 in game three until Stellar went to work with his serves. His serves posed a problem for the Gauchos as they committed error after error. UCI would tie the match at 22, until the Gauchos strung together four straight points to go up 26-22.
However, the resiliency that UCI showed earlier in the season was resurrected as UCI answered with a 4-0 run of their own to tie the match once again at 26. The match was then kept close until a Gaucho error and a Reinholm kill gave UCI the 30-28 victory.
With the win, UCI was back at .500 with a 9-9 overall record and 6-7 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play.
The Anteaters will host Ohio State next Friday and Saturday at the Bren Events Center in non-conference matches. The Anteaters won the NCAA Championship at Ohio State last year.