In one of its best seasons in program history, the women’s tennis team is currently 18-3 overall for a perfect 7-0 record in conference and is in the midst of a 16-match win-streak. USC and UCLA are the only teams that have been capable of dealing a loss to the Anteaters — USC twice, once on Jan. 16 and once on Jan. 27 in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Of the 18 UC Irvine wins, six have been sweeps.
On Friday, April 12, the ’Eaters added another point to their win column as Irvine swept the UC Riverside Highlanders at Andulka Park.
Unstoppable doubles pair sophomore Ali Facey and junior Brooke Schweyer dealt the UCR McKay/Pattugalan combination an 8-0 sweep, contributing to the Irvine doubles sweep for the point.
With only two matches remaining in the season, the ’Eaters face Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday, April 16, and Hawai’i on Sunday, April 21.
On Saturday at the Bren Events Center, seniors Kevin Tillie, Ian Castellana and Chris Austin took the court before the match against No. 13 Penn State in celebration of Senior Night. In the non-conference match, the No. 4 ranked ’Eaters swept the Nittany Lions (25-20, 25-20, 25-14) to improve to 22-6 overall for its fifth win in a row.
With its own five-game win streak interrupted by the ’Eaters, Penn State falls to 19-7 on the season.
Fitting for the celebratory Senior Night, Irvine topped the Nittany Lions in serves (7-1), digs (24-16), blocks (8.5-7.5) and hitting percentage (.368-.130).
In the first frame, Penn State narrowly led at 9-8 before Irvine mounted a 7-0 run to take the lead at 16-9 thanks to Kyle Russell’s serving expertise. Penn State would get four in a row, but Irvine would go on to take the set 25-20.
Penn State took a one-point lead again in the second at 14-13 and hung with the ’Eaters as the two teams traded points until UCI led at 22-19. The ’Eaters took the second set 25-20 after two kills from Tillie and a solo block by Collin Mehring.
Irvine came out strong in the third set, and Penn State would not pose any threat as the ’Eaters took the set and the W on a 25-14 finish.
Senior Tillie paced UCI with 12 kills and five digs. With 10 kills of his own, Zack La Cavera had five digs and three block assists, while Scott Kevorkan led the ’Eaters with four blocks and five kills. Russell commanded eight kills, two aces and three blocks as setter Chris Austin led with 33 set assists, three digs and three kills. Sophomore libero Michael Brinkley totaled a match-high eight digs.
UCI takes the court next on Saturday, April 21 against UCSB in the MPSF quarterfinals.