UCI 3, USC 1
At 7-2, the No. 2 Anteaters men’s volleyball team has now won three straight contests. The latest victory came in four sets (25-17, 23-25, 25-21, 25-16) at home against the No. 5 University of Southern California Trojans.
UC Irvine’s Friday night win at the Bren Events Center came after sweeping UC San Diego and taking a four set win against Pepperdine. Two weeks removed from back-to-back losses at home against Brigham Young University, the ’Eaters now have a two week hiatus to rest up and work out the kinks before continuing their national championship campaign in Hawaii on Feb. 10.
Irvine took the first, third and fourth sets against the Trojans with relative ease, letting the second set slip away by a two point margin.
UCI jumped out to an early 6-3 lead in the first set, extending it to 17-10 before hanging on for a 25-17 victory. Seniors Carson Clark and Dan McConell, along with sophomore Jeremy Dejno, came up clutch throughout the first frame and controlled the momentum from the get-go.
Tied at 21 in the second set, the Anteaters rallied off a couple of unforced errors, prompting a timeout from Coach John Speraw. The Trojans traded points with the home team, but held on to win the set by a two point margin.
USC took the momentum into the third set, but let Irvine slip back in, tying the third at 17. Junior Kevin Tillie and sophomore Scott Kevorken drilled consecutive kills and Clark served up an ace to extend the lead to 20-17. UCI made it two sets to one with the 25-21 game victory.
With just one attack error in the fourth set, the Anteaters took down the Trojans with ease in the fourth set, outscoring USC 25-16.
Tillie nailed 18 kills and hit .567, while Clark contributed 10 kills, four aces, and tied his season-high with five key block assists in the Anteater victory.
UCI 3, Pepperdine 1
The Pepperdine Waves men’s volleyball team began their road trip at the Bren Events Center on Wednesday, Jan. 25 coming off of a five-game winning streak and only one loss. Their winning streak came to an end after a 3-1 loss to UC Irvine.
UC Irvine had an all-around team effort with sophomore Jeremy Dejno leading with 15 kills and five aces. Junior Kevin Tillie, having his first start since his ankle injury, finished with a career-high 13 kills and the seniors Carson Clark and Dan McDonnell each added nine kills. Sophomore setter Daniel Stork had 54 set assists, while freshman libero Michael Brinkley also had a career-high with 11 digs.
UCI trailed halfway through the first set until a few kills by McDonnell and an ace by Dejno helped them take a 16-14 lead. They won 25-20 on a service error by Pepperdine. Kevin Tillie would end the first set with six kills.
In the second set, the Anteaters came out less energetic, causing the tables to turn. Pepperdine took the second set 25-21 answering back to each Anteater point. At the start of the third set, Pepperdine came out like they did in the second set taking an early lead. The Anteaters picked it back up taking the lead back 10-5 and maintained their lead throughout the set winning 25-21.
UCI scored five consecutive points in the last set to lead 15-12. The Waves continued to put up a fight but the Anteaters held on to win 25-21.
“We didn’t play to our standards in that second set like we did in the first set,” Dejno said on their lack of energy in the second set. “We let them fight back, on our side, we were thinking ‘this is in the bag’ and we need to break away from that competitive downturn.”
“We won the first game and then our energy went down, that’s what kills us,” Tillie said. “We have to keep focused the whole game. It was a win so that’s good, but we still have a lot to improve on.”