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UC Irvine 3 Princeton 0

UC Irvine men’s volleyball team entered Tuesday night’s match against Princeton with a pedestrian 4-4 record and a rare three game losing streak. This marked the first time the Anteaters entered a match on a three game skid since April of 2008.

Despite the recent struggles against USC, CSUN, and UCSB, the Anteaters were able to reestablish their winning ways, as they brought out the brooms against the Tigers. Princeton proved to be a mere road block on the Anteaters’ schedule, as UCI was able to take the match in three sets (30-26, 30-16, 30-22).

“We talked about two goals in terms of how we were going to hit and serve. I thought we accomplished those goals tonight,” Head Coach John Speraw said.

The ’Eaters were able to pull off this victory in an unexpected fashion. UCI’s two big time studs, Carson Clark and Jordan DuFault, only played the first set while the rest of the team contributed in the latter stages of the match. Head Coach John Speraw was able to call on his bench without losing a step in intensity, as 14 different players saw playing time and nine different players were able to record a kill.

“I was happy that we got to look at different guys,” Speraw said. “They all came in and played really well, they kept their intensity throughout the match.”

Senior Cole Reinholm and sophomore Austin D’Amore led the team with ten kills apiece.

On the defensive side, Princeton was able to match UC Irvine’s intensity. In the first set, both teams nearly hit for an identical hitting percentage, as the Anteaters converted .219 of their hitting opportunities while the Tigers converted .216. Tied at eight apiece, freshman Connor Hughes was able to give the Anteaters the momentum by recording four out of the next seven points. Hughes was able to push the ’Eater lead to 13-9 by recording two straight kills followed by two straight aces. From that point on, Princeton was not able to break the Anteaters’ momentum.

In the second set, the Anteaters’ offensive onslaught overwhelmed the Tigers. The ’Eaters were able to hit for a remarkable .609 hitting percentage. Much of the success was due in large part to Reinholm and senior Bryan Simmons, as they combined to kill seven out of seven killing opportunities.

The final set was much of the same as the second. However, this time the Anteaters did the most damage on the defensive side. The Tigers were only able to convert .154 of their killing opportunities. Freshmen Will Thomas, Danny Miller and Montgomery showcased their talents in the late stages of the set and helped UCI end the match on a 7-4 run.

UC Irvine 2 Hawaii 3

UC Irvine travelled to Hawaii to face the Warriors in a two-game weekend series. The Anteaters suffered another tough loss, falling to the University of Hawaii in an epic five set match (28-30, 20-30 30-27, 30-26, 18-20).

The ’Eaters were plagued by a slow start falling in a 0-2 hole. However, the Anteaters were able to force a fifth set that ultimately went the Warriors’ way.

UC Irvine 2 Hawaii 3

After the disappointing loss on Friday night, the Anteaters would once again face the Warriors hoping to see a different result. Saturday night proved to be an eerie repeat of Friday night’s match, as the ’Eaters would fall in five sets (26-30, 30-32, 30-26, 30-20, 11-15).

Clark notched 21 kills while DuFault recorded another double-double of 21 kills and 13 digs. UCI dug themselves in a hole after losing the first two sets but were able to force a fifth set after taking sets three and four.

The ’Eaters played stifling defense, as they were able to record three more blocks and five more digs than the Warriors. However, the Anteater defense was nullified by 25 service errors compared to Hawaii’s 12.

After suffering two heartbreaking losses, the Anteaters (5-6, 1-5) will now look to right the ship as they return home to face the BYU Cougars on Thursday and Friday night.

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