Men’s Volleyball Says Aloha
UCI 3, Hawaii 1
Last year the UC Irvine Anteaters traveled to Hawaii and played back-to-back games, only to lose them both in five sets.
On Monday, Feb. 21, the ’Eaters used a team effort and toppled the Warriors in four sets: 25-22, 26-24, 21-25 and 26-24.
“It’s good to win ugly,” Head Coach John Speraw said.
Carson Clark led the way with 22 kills, Jordan Dufault tallied 20 and Cory Yoder finished the match with 15. Setter Anthony Spittle dished out 54 helpers and five other players showed their setting skills by recording one or more assist.
The offense fired on all cylinders as DuFault and Yoder both hit over .400, and as a team the ’Eaters converted .438 percent of killing opportunities.
Although the offense pieced together a good game, other facets of UCI’s games did not run so smoothly. The Anteaters fired five aces, but they also recorded 20 service errors in four sets.
“I did not feel that we served the ball particularly well tonight,” Spreaw said. “For us to have 20 errors is really high. We have to get better at this skill.”
As much as the ’Eaters struggled from the service line, they did come up with timely aces. In the late stages of game two, the Warriors controlled the momentum and the lead, but the ’Eaters remained resilient and managed to tie the score at 24 apiece.
After tying the game, DuFault fired his first ace of the game and gave ’Eaters the lead at 25-24. DuFault once again stepped to the service line and rocketed a second consecutive ace, giving the Anteaters a victory in game two.
On defense, the ’Eaters failed to find a rhythm. UCI allowed the Warriors to covert .393 of their killing opportunities in game two, and in set three the Warriors hit .412.
UCI 3, Hawaii 1
After dropping the first of two games, the Warriors returned to the Bren Events Center on Feb. 22, looking for revenge. But their quest for vengeance started off on the wrong foot when the Anteaters recorded a first-set victory.
In the first game, the ’Eaters found themselves cornered, trailing 23-24, but UCI stormed back to take the opening set at 27-25.
However, after dropping a heart breaker, the revenge the Warriors desperately sought appeared to be at arm’s length. Hawaii battled back and won the second game. In game three, Hawaii had the Anteaters right where they wanted them.
The Warriors built a five-point lead at 15-10 because of a nonexistent Anteater defense that allowed Hawaii to convert .833 of their hitting opportunities. Coach Speraw took a timeout, looking to stop the bleeding, but that failed. Down 15-19, Speraw, desperate for an answer, called on senior middle blocker Kevin Wynne.
“Our team was flat,” Wynne said, “I just went in and tried to pick up the energy.”
Speraw picked the right player at the right time.
Before Wynne entered the game, the Warriors recorded 10 kills on 12 attempts. The senior middle blocker changed the course of the game as the Warriors notched five kills on 18 attempts in the latter part of game three.
“Kevin [Wynne] played phenomenal,” Speraw said. “He hit well and he’s a really smart blocker.”
Wynne’s presence sparked a game three win and four-set match victory: 27-25, 20-25, 25-23 and 28-26.
“We played incredibly poised and clutch volleyball,” Speraw said.
The Warriors had every chance to win as they had many statistical advantages. Hawaii hit .470 to UCI’s .347, committed three less service errors, recorded six more digs and tallied eight more blocks.
After committing 20 service errors the night before, the ’Eaters helped themselves out by limiting their errors to 10 and firing 13 aces.
Clark led the way for the Anteaters with his 20 kills and DuFault helped the cause with 18. Spittle recorded 63 assists in the victory.
The Anteaters have had a solid home stand thus far, putting together four straight wins. However, their winning streak has seen the Anteaters only face one opponent with a winning record. The ’Eaters will be tested on March 4 when they host the defending national champion Stanford Cardinal. UCI will round out their six-game home stand on March 5 when they host the Pacific Tigers.