Clark Leads Sweep
UCI 3 Long Beach State 1
After getting the giant gorilla off their back by winning their first five-set match of the season, UC Irvine welcomed heated rival Long Beach State to the Bren.
UC Irvine assumed the role of rude host, defeating the 49ers in a very entertaining four-set match (30-21, 31-29, 28-30, 30-28). Carson Clark led the way for the Anteaters as he recorded a game high of 23 kills. Jordan DuFault and Corey Yoder also made their presence felt by adding 15 and 14 kills, respectively.
“We had better ball control than [Long Beach], our serve and pass game was a little better,” Head Coach John Speraw said.
In the first set, the Anteaters were able to steamroll over the 49ers due in large part to Clark. Late in the first set, Long Beach State recorded two straight points that cut the ’Eater lead to 22-19. Clark single-handedly responded with a run of his own by firing three straight balls that pushed the Anteaters’ lead to 25-19. From that point on, UCI never looked back and took the first set.
Sets two, three and four proved to be a different story. These sets showed flashes of Ali-Frazier, as both teams exchanged devastating knockout blows.
In the second set, the Anteaters trailed for most of the set. Trailing 25-27, DuFault was able to rip the momentum away from the 49ers, as he recorded a kill and fired an ace. Both teams traded points until the score reached 29-29. Clark sent a ball down the middle of the court that gave the ’Eaters a one-point lead. The second set ended when Long Beach State fired a ball that went high and wide.
“I’ve talked a lot to Coach Kniffin about maturity and getting better in that aspect,” Clark said. “We needed to show our maturity in order to catch up.”
Up two sets to one, the Anteaters were looking to sweep the 49ers. However, Long Beach State would have none of that as they responded with their best set of the match. In the latter stages of the third set, The Beach controlled the set by jumping to a 16-24 lead.
After losing a hard-fought third set, the Anteaters were looking to close out the 49ers in four games. In the fourth set, the Anteaters took an 18-13 lead, with a .421 killing percentage. Long Beach State demonstrated their tenacity as they chipped away at the ’Eaters’ lead until they were able to tie the set at 26-26 with two straight aces.
With the score knotted, DuFault fired a ball for a kill that gave the Anteaters a one point lead but Carroll served into the net again, keeping the score knotted at 27-27. Both teams split the next two points which kept the score tied.
However, the 49ers blinked first, as they fired a ball into the net on their service attempt. Up 29-28, Long Beach State tried to fire a ball to the Anteater side but Austin D’Amore rejected the kill attempt and ended the match.
“This turned into a game of significant runs and we were fortunate to hold off their last run and win the match,” Speraw said.
UCI 3 UCSD 0
The Anteaters kept the good times rolling with a 3-0 match win against 14th ranked UC San Diego at the RIMAC Arena last Friday night. UCI was able to improve its overall record to 14-13 and 9-11 in the MPSF. The Anteaters swept the Tritons with three consecutive set wins: 30-23, 30-13, and 30-21.
Clark led the Anteaters with 17 kills and a career-high 11 block assists. Austin D’Amore also led UCI with a career-high 12 total blocks (11 block assists and one solo block). Jordan DuFault added nine kills and five blocks, while Cory Yoder had eight kills and Kevin Carroll totaled five kills while hitting 1.000 (5-0-5). Setter Jeff Schmitz recorded 37 set assists. UCI out-hit the Tritons.416-.053 and had eight aces to UCSD’s one. UCI’s 17.5 blocks was the second most this year.
UCI will wrap up its season this upcoming weekend against two tough opponents, but they will have the home-field advantage for both matches. The Anteaters will first take on Pacific on April 16. The following night, UCI plays Stanford to conclude their regular season.