Men’s Volleyball Wraps-up Regular Season
The regular season for the men’s volleyball team came to a close last weekend as UC Irvine hosted Stanford and Pacific at the Bren Center in back-to-back games.
With playoff implications at stake, the No. 6 Anteaters fell to the No. 4 Cardinals in five sets, (21-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-19, 13-15) in a hard fought game Friday night. Stanford continued to cement its status as the hottest team in the MPSF as Friday’s game marked their 10th straight victory.
Outside hitter Jeremy Dejno led Irvine with a team high of 17 kills while outside hitter Connor Hughes contributed 14 kills and 10 digs. Middle blocker Scott Kevorken registered 10 kills and a match-high five total blocks including two solos.
Stanford would rally back from a 7-14 deficit in the first set to score five straight points and tie the set at 18-18. A UCI service error and kill by Daniel Tublin gave Stanford a 20-19 and they would go on to close the set 25-21. The tables would turn in the second set, as it was Irvine who trailed early at 4-10. The Anteaters would mount a 9-3 run off the back of Travis Woloson’s serving to even the score at 13-13. Scott Kevorken and Connor Hughes scored huge kills at 17-17 to push the Anteaters to an eventual 25-21 lead.
The score would again be tied at 17-17 in the third, but service errors by Irvine and superior blocking would give the set to the Cardinals 25-21. During the fourth set it would be Stanford’s turn to commit struggle on serve as they committed a total of six service faults. Irvine would clinch the set off of a kill by Dejno to take it 25-19 and force a fifth and final set.
Neither team would let up in the decisive set, nor would they find themselves tied 13-13 in the final moments of the game. Stanford would edge out Irvine with a kill and block to take the set and win the match.
Coming off the game, the Anteaters hold an overall record of 17-10 and 14-9 in the MPSF.
Irvine would rebound the next day from Friday’s loss by sweeping Pacific 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, and 25-18) on senior night. Jeremy Dejno led the team with 12 kills and two aces, while Connor Hughes added eights kill and five digs. Scott Kevorken had six kills and two block assists, and finally Collin Mehring was a deadly 83 percent from the field with five kills out of six attempts.
UCI and Pacific remained close in the first set but a kill by Kevorken and error by Pacific put UCI ahead 17-15. The Anteaters would take the set 25-21 off of six kills by Dejno. UC Irvine would cruise through the next two sets, opening up with a 5-1 and 8-1 lead respectively, to win each set 25-18.
Spectators in the Bren, both Pacific and Irvine fans alike, rose to give the players a lengthy sustained rousing ovation at the game’s conclusion. For the Anteaters, the applause served as a home-crowd send off as they begin post-season play next week. For the Tigers, it marked the end of an era, as Saturday’s game marked the final game of Pacific’s volleyball game. Earlier this year, the University decided that it would no longer continue to sponsor the volleyball program.
Pacific Head Coach Joe Wortmann was a class act at the conclusion of the game, coming over to give each of the Anteaters a hug at the conclusion of the game.
Irvine’s five seniors, Jeremy Dejno, Connor Hughes, Scott Kevorken, Collin Mehring and Daniel Stork, were honored with their families following the game. The players leave behind a winning legacy, as they won two national championships in their time here.
Amidst the festivities and out-pouring of emotions Saturday, seniors Dejno and Hughes remain focused on bringing home another championship and are more than eager to redeem themselves against Stanford.
“I don’t think there’s any team that I want to play right away other than Stanford because I don’t think we played great against them as well and we took them to five.” said Dejno.
Regarding their play of late, the seniors stated that the team has struggled in staying consistent with their play as of late but the best is yet to come.
“The good thing about this team right now is I think we’re kind of on our way up still, we haven’t peaked yet, so I think we’re just going to keep rising throughout the playoffs and finally peak maybe just at the finals.” added Hughes.
The Anteaters will travel to Stanford next Saturday for a rematch in the quarterfinals of the MPSF tournament.