Anteaters swept by Bruins for fourth loss of season
UCLA 3, UCI 0
Service errors were a theme for UC Irvine on Saturday evening as the top-ranked Anteaters (19-4, 15-4) hosted No. 3-ranked UCLA (20-5, 14-4) for their last regular season home game. UCI lost in three straight sets to the Bruins (25-21, 25-21, 25-23) after being plagued by service errors.
Students and fans packed a sold-out Crawford Court venue, joining the friends and family members of the senior Anteater players on Senior Night. The Bruins would spoil the party, however, somewhat avenging their two earlier losses to the Anteaters (one of them on the Bruins’ home floor).
Both teams played to a 10-10 tie in the first set before UCLA went on a 7-2 run to open up their largest lead in the first set. The Anteaters battled back, closing the gap to 18-16 on a Carson Clark ace. The Bruins managed to ward off the Anteaters, stretching their lead to 23-18 before winning the set 25-21.
The Anteaters and Bruins kept the score close again throughout the second set, with neither team leading by more than two, until UCLA took a 15-12 lead. The Bruins then inched ahead at 19-15, forcing a timeout by UCI. The Anteaters closed the gap to 20-19 with two kills by Clark and blocks by Clark and Dan McDonnell, then forcing UCLA to call a time-out. The Bruins would finish the set on a 5-2 run, taking the second set 25-21.
Grumblings among UCI fans were drowned out by the cheers of the large contingent of UCLA fans in attendance, but as the Anteater players prepared for the third set, shouts of “U-C-I!” began to find their place among the chants of “U-C! L-A!”
The third set began with another back-and-forth affair until a 9-9 tie. The Anteaters scored three straight to go ahead 12-9, but the Bruins battled back with an 8-4 run to retake the lead at 17-16. The teams traded leads and spectacular rallies until a 22-22 tie. UCLA then rode back-to-back kills by Thomas Amberg (one of his 10 kills) and Nick Vogel to set up match point, 24-22. UCI’s Connor Hughes had the last of his team-high nine kills to bring the Anteaters within one, but Clark’s serve went into the net, giving UCLA the set and match — a mirror image of UCI’s win over Santa Barbara the previous night.
UCI and UCLA combined for 28 service errors. The Anteaters tallied 13, and those, along with the lack of passing in their attack, were what brought them down, according to UCI’s Conner Hughes.
“Our serving and passing were what really killed us in the end,” he said. “We got out-served and passed the whole game. We have a certain pass game, but we didn’t do that tonight.”
Head coach John Speraw also pointed to passing along with other issues in the loss, saying that it was not nearly at the level they were capable of playing at. UCLA out-hit UCI, the nation’s best hitting team, .378 to .273 in what was UCI’s third-worst hitting performance of the year.
“We didn’t pass the ball very well, that’s probably the biggest thing,” he said. “We didn’t good offensively; we weren’t very adaptable defensively; we didn’t do a very good job blocking at the net. I don’t think we did a very good job adapting to the strengths of UCLA, and my expectations are that we would have done better than that.”
In terms of finishing off the season with three road games, Speraw said the team had to check back in mentally after a week off.
“We have to have some of our guys figure out exactly want out of this year,” he said. “We need to see the intensity and competitive level of effort that hasn’t been seen this week. We can’t play like we played this week.
“Hopefully the rest from academics will benefit us in the long run, and we need to make sure we’re not on spring break next week.”
UCSB 0, UC I 3
After taking a full week off for finals, the No. 1-ranked UC Irvine men’s volleyball team returned to action on Friday, March 30 against the No. 15 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (5-17 overall, 3-14 MPSF). The Anteaters beat the Gauchos 3-0 (25-16, 25-22, 25-22), to solidify their No. 1 ranking.
Sophomore Jeremy Dejno led both teams with 14 kills while hitting .524 (14-3-21), and senior Carson Clark contributed 11 kills and hit .429. Senior Dan McDonnell added in seven kills of his own while hitting .556 as the best-hitting team in the nation out-hit the Gauchos .346 to .205.
The Gaucho’s Matt Marsh led his team with 14 kills while hitting .407, but he was the only player with double figures in kills for Santa Barbara.
The Anteaters won the first set easily enough, hitting .398 (11-4-18) to the Gaucho’s .182 (9-5-22). Initially holding a slim lead at 11-10, the Anteaters went on a 6-2 run to give themselves a comfortable cushion to win the set 25-16.
UCI would encounter a bit of difficulty in the last two sets, as the Gauchos took advantage of 14 Anteater service errors to stay close.
As the Anteaters found themselves leading 16-12 in the second set, four consecutive errors on their part allowed the Gauchos to tie at 16-16. The Anteaters, led by Clark’s five kills and ace in the set, battled to lead 23-20, but another UCI service error and a kill by the Gauchos brought UCSB within one, 23-22, forcing a UCI time-out. A UCSB service error (one of their 12) along with a block by UCI gave the Anteaters the set, 25-22.
The Anteaters led early 10-4 in the third set, but the Gauchos again kept it close late in the set, closing to 22-20. Zachary La Cavera’s only kill of the night gave the Anteaters a bit of space at 23-20, and after trading points another UCSB service error ended the set 25-22 and gave UCI the win.