Tritons Thrashed and Thwarted
UC Irvine 2 Long Beach State 3
This season, UC Irvine has amassed a total of nine losses, five of which have been decided in the fifth and final set of a match. Wednesday night’s match against heated rival Long Beach State proved to be another classic case of the Anteaters’ inability to perform in clutch situations. The ’Eaters added another devastating loss to their record, as they fell to the 49ers in five sets (30-28, 20-30, 23-30, 30-28, 12-15).
Carson Clark’s 15 kills and Kevin Carroll’s 14 were not enough to put the Anteaters on top. The ‘Eaters were done in by their stagnant offense, as they hit for a season low of .205. Once again, the Anteaters showcased an atrocious display of service as they committed 25 errors.
UC Irvine’s inability to capitalize on their opponents’ mistakes and hold on to leads proved to be very costly. After winning the first set, the Anteaters let the 49ers climb back into the match as they won sets two and three.
In the fifth and final set, the ‘Eaters held the lead at 10-6, only to let it slip and give Long Beach State the victory at 15-12.
UC Irvine 3 UC San Diego 1
It has been a roller coaster ride for UC Irvine Volleyball to say the least. After suffering another disappointing five set loss on Wednesday night, the Anteaters bounced back with a four set victory against UC San Diego (30-15, 30-25, 29-31, 30-23).
The Anteaters were able to assert their dominance over the Tritons, as three UCI players recorded double-doubles. Carson Clark led all players with 27 kills and added 10 digs while Jordan DuFault recorded another double-double of 16 kills and 10 digs.
“It was all [Ian Wynne], he just sets very well,” Clark said. “He makes my job easier.”
Freshman setter Ian Wynne got his second straight start and made the most of it. Wynne was in sync with his teammates all night as he dished out 52 assists and provided a defensive spark, notching a team high of 13 digs.
Defense proved to be key for the Anteaters. UCI showed up with an intense defense that was not matched by UCSD. Not only were the Anteaters able to out dig them 51-48, but also out blocked them 12 to seven.
“Our blocking this year has been pretty good,” Head Coach John Speraw said. “It has been a nice surprise.”
One of the main reasons for UCI’s inconsistency has been their service. After committing 25 errors at the service line two nights ago, the Anteaters were able to clean up their act. Although the Anteaters missed on 17 serves that went too high and missed the court, they were able to counter their errors with an amazing display of 11 aces.
The Tritons stumbled out of the gates, as the ’Eaters were able to take a first set victory in an authoritative way. UCSD could not match UCI’s play on both sides of the net. Blocks by Corey Yoder, Austin D’Amore, Kevin Wynne and DuFault intimidated UCSD at the net which resulted in a -.067 Triton hitting percentage. Great defense led to instant offense. UCSD had no answer for Clark, as he hit for an incredible .636 hitting percentage while the team as a whole converted .550 of their killing opportunities.
After a rude awakening in the first set, UCSD tried to bounce back; however, any and all attempts made by the Tritons proved to be futile. Although UCI’s offense ran into a wall, their defense continued to fire at all cylinders. Once again the ’Eaters defense came up big, holding the Tritons to a .077 hitting percentage.
The Anteaters were looking to steam roll into the third set but their inability to capitalize on Triton miscues proved to be very costly. The third set featured nine tie scores and three lead changes due in large part to the Anteaters defense, as they allowed UCSD to hit for a .404 hitting percentage. However, this all went for naught as the Anteaters could not take advantage of a Triton service error that tied the set at 29-29. UCI went on to lose when the Tritons recorded the last two points on a kill and on a UCI overpass.
After failing to go for the jugular in the third set, the Anteaters were able to rely on their defense to close the fourth set, as they held the Tritons to a .108 hitting percentage.
“We need to take to our opportunities and beat teams when we have the chance to do so,” Speraw said. “We have let a lot of teams off the hook this year.”