Volleyball Goes 1-1 in Last Two Games
It is not how you start but rather how you finish. No one has personified this saying better than the Anteaters of UC Irvine. After having a tumultuous start to the season, the Anteaters have found some consistency with a three-game winning streak and were looking for their fourth against UOP.
Pacific entered Friday night’s match against UCI in search of their first victory against a conference opponent. Pacific’s search still continues, as UCI dismantled the Tigers in three sets (30-17, 30-25, 30-27).
“It was an important win,” Head Coach John Speraw said. “It felt like UOP was better than their record indicated.”
The Anteaters only needed 14 kills from Carson Clark and nine from Jordan DuFault in order to put away the Tigers. Jeff Schmitz got the start at setter and dished out 34 assists. The ’Eaters notched seven aces, and committed 19 service errors, but these were overcome by inconsistent play on both sides of the net.
The Anteaters did most of their damage on the defensive end, out blocking the Tigers 11 to 6. Moreover, UOP was held to a .195 hitting percentage through three sets, including a .156 hitting percentage in the second set.
UC Irvine 2 Stanford 3
It was a very disappointing end to UC Irvine’s regular season. The Anteaters fought hard throughout the first four sets and gave the top ranked Stanford Cardinals everything they could handle. However, for the Anteaters, the story always changes once they enter the fifth and final set.
It was another heartbreaking, disappointing, bitter five-set loss for the Anteaters (21-30, 30-27, 28-30, 30-24, 15-6). Jordan DuFault’s double-double of 27 kills and 11 digs and Carson Clark’s 24 and 10 were valiant efforts that went for naught, as the ’Eaters waited for Senior Night to showcase their inability to get the ball over the net. The Anteaters fell to the Cardinals because of their own doing, showcasing a pathetic display of 28 service errors.
“We served very poorly,” Speraw said. “This was our worst night; it’s just unbelievable.”
At this point of the season it seems that the Anteaters have perfected the art of split personality. Throughout the first four sets, the Anteaters played their hearts out, overcoming their own mistakes and withstanding the Cardinal attack.
The Anteaters dropped the first set due in large part to a stagnate offense, converting an abysmal .129 of their hitting opportunities. After losing the opening game, the Anteaters rebounded in a big way.
The ’Eaters woke up in the second set, killing for an average of .400. Their defense seemed to be fueled by their offensive spark, as they held the Cardinal to .183 hitting percentage. Moreover, the Anteaters put on a blocking clinic, blocking six balls in the set. The Anteaters also showcased their resiliency, as they overcame 10 service errors. This included a ten-point span where UCI would tie the score and then give the lead right back to Stanford with five consecutive service errors.
In the third set, the Anteaters went neck and neck with the Cardinal. Despite trailing for most of the set, the ’Eaters did not allow Stanford to pull away. Tied at 28-28, UCI’s Corey Yoder hit a ball that landed just outside the line. The point went the Cardinal’s way, and UCI could not recover.
The Cardinal opened up the fourth set with a 1-4 lead. However, defense was key for the Anteaters, holding Stanford to a .111 hitting percentage. The Anteaters also notched four blocks and hit four aces in the set.
The Anteaters were able to keep 1,495 fans on the edge of their seats with heart-pounding and gut-wrenching plays. But once the fifth set began, the Anteaters turned into Mr. Hyde and all of the air and energy that once filled the Bren Events Center quickly disappeared.
It was only fitting for UCI to open up the fifth set with a service error.
“We just had a few errors and [in] the fifth game it’s all about not making errors,” DuFault said.
After an exchange of kills, the score was knotted up at 2-2. From that point it all went down hill for the ’Eaters. Stanford recorded seven unanswered points. The Anteaters failed to regain their composure or show their mental toughness that had been displayed in sets one through four.
Despite the loss, the Anteaters will play next Saturday in the opening round of the MPSF playoffs. The ’Eaters will travel to Stanford for a shot of redemption.