UCI Shocks China in a Five-Set Thiller
From Oct. 5-10, the UCI Athletic Department hosted the second annual UCI International Men’s Volleyball Tournament. Teams from Argentina, Brazil, China and Korea traveled thousands of miles to compete not only against each other, but against one of the best collegiate volleyball programs: UCI. Men, well above the average height, seemed to file in and out of Crawford Court and the Bren Events Center.
The first day of the tournament placed UPCN Voley, the Argentinean National Team, against UCI. The Anteaters entered the game against Argentina without an ounce of intimidation and fed off Speraw’s cool and calm demeanor.
UPCN Voley displayed their professional skills as they showed their power, athleticism and aerial attack. But the ’Eaters did not back down, taking the first two sets from the Argentinean team. After the second set, UPCN woke up and won the last three games, downing the Anteaters in five games: 25-22, 26-24, 17-25, 24-26 and 12-15. Despite the harrowing loss, Speraw seemed more confident than ever by starting three freshmen on the next starting line up.
Against the Korean Air Jumbos, the starting lineup for UCI consisted of Daniel Stork, Scott Kevorken, Jeremy Dejno, Cory Yoder, Nick West, Kevin Wynne and Kenny Webster. For Stork, Kevorken, and Dejno, this game against the professional Korean team was their first ever collegiate match.
“I’m not nervous, not nervous at all,” Head Coach John Speraw said when asked if he was apprehensive about changing his usual starters.
The feeling seemed to be mutual throughout the team, as our modern-day Olympians warmed up on the court. Scott Kevorken, one of the newest additions, seemed more excited than apprehensive.
“I’m nervous, but more of that ‘good’ kind of nervous,” Kevorken said. “We have an adaptable team.”
Although the Korean Air Jumbos beat the Anteaters in three sets (25-21, 25-21, 25-19), the synergy was undeniable. Kevorken managed six kills, three aces and three block assists.
Whatever tricks Speraw had up his sleeve ended up paying off in the third match against China. Taking the lead against Zhejiang, UCI won the match (23-25, 25-21, 25-18, 19-25, 15-12).
Freshman Dejno led the Anteaters with 26 kills and a.750 hitting percentage. Carroll helped the ’Eater cause by adding another 17 kills. Freshman setter Daniel Stork handed out 62 assists and notched two aces.
On the final day, Brazil finished their undefeated run beating UCI in three sets. SADA Cruziero capped off their tournament experience by defeating the Anteaters in three sets: 25-16, 25-22 and 25-17.
UCI showed improvement in this year’s tournament, taking the Argentinean team to five sets and beating the Chinese. UC Irvine’s international experience will come in handy when they begin their season in January.