Men’s Volleyball Snaps BYU’s 36 Home Game Win Streak
Men’s Volleyball Defeat BYU
UC Irvine men’s volleyball team defeated Brigham Young University in back-to-back matches at the Smith Fieldhouse last weekend, coming back from a one set deficit to win three straight both nights against the Cougars.
With their 3-1, (20-25, 25-19, 29-27, 25-23) win on Friday, No. 5 UC Irvine snapped No. 6 BYU’s record 36 match win streak at home, in front of a raucous crowd of 3962, becoming the first team to do so since Feb. 1, 2013. Senior opposite Zack La Cavera submitted a stellar performance for the Anteaters, posting a match-high 19 kills, nine digs and three block assists. Sophomore outside Tamir Hershko contributed 15 kills while junior middle blocker Jason Agopian added 11 kills and two block assists.
Senior setter Roberto Frazzoni had 41 set assists and seven digs for the night, and libero Michael Brinkley recorded a season-high 18 digs.
After dropping the first set, the Anteaters came roaring back to take the second set with a .379 hitting percentage. The third set was more tightly contested, with both teams trading points until the Anteaters clinched the set 27-25 off of a kill by Hershko and a Cougar attack error. In the fourth set UC Irvine led by as much as 16-9, but the Cougars rallied back with some strong blocking and staved off three consecutive match points to nearly mount a comeback at 24-23. However, a Hershko kill that found its way around a hungry BYU block clinched the match for Anteaters to end the Cougar’s streak.
The following night UC Irvine defeated BYU in similar fashion, winning three straight sets after dropping the first, (23-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-18). With the win, the Anteaters became the first time in three years to hand the Cougars consecutive losses on their home court, a feat last achieved by Stanford on Feb. 3 and 4, 2012.
UC Irvine demonstrated the depth of its roster Saturday night, with four players recording double-digit kills and hitting percentages above .400. Collectively the Anteaters hit for .383 percent, and outdug the Cougars 38-30.
La Cavera once again led the Anteaters with 16 kills and six digs. Senior outside Travis Woloson had a huge night, recording a career-high 14 kills, three digs and two block assists. Woloson took the Cougars to task with several of his kills coming through jousts, where he emerged victorious each time. Junior outside Kyle Russell recorded a stellar night, hitting for .529 (11-2-17) and causing several problems for the Cougars from the service line. Agopian added 11 kills off of .467 hitting with four digs and a team-high three block assists.
Coming off his strong showing the night prior, Frazzoni made his first start of the year and recorded a career-high 53 assists and season-high nine digs.
In the first set, BYU committed two attack errors in succession to fall to an early 4-2 hole. However, the Cougars recovered from their slow start to hold a commanding 16-10 lead after stuffing an ‘Eater attack. UC Irvine rebounded following a timeout to pull within 18-17 off a 7-2 run, but the Cougars won the next three to halt the Anteater’s momentum. In a reversal of the final set of the first night, UC Irvine staved off three match points at 24-20 before dropping the first set 23-25 off of a BYU kill.
In the second set the Anteaters trailed by as much as 4-8 before tying the game on a 6-2 run to even things up at 10-10. UCI and BYU would trade points throughout the set, with neither team leading by a margin greater than two. At 21-21, Russell posted a kill and a service ace to give the UCI a 23-21 advantage. A kill by Woloson and BYU attack error gave the Anteaters the set at 25-22.
Once again, both teams traded points with neither team leading by more than two points through the majority of the third set. A BYU service error at 16 all put Russell at the service line, whose overhead serves led to two consecutive kills by Woloson and one himself to break open a 20-16 lead for the Anteaters. An emphatic spike that sent the ball flying to the rafters and a block assist by La Cavera extended UCI’s lead to 22-17, before taking the set 25-19.
BYU simply had no answer for the Anteaters in the fifth set, who shot a blistering .516. A triumvirate of kills by Russell, La Cavera and Agopian put the Anteaters up 19-12 while quieting the normally raucous Smith Fieldhouse crowd. A kill by La Cavera at 24-19 clinched the two-game sweep for the Anteaters.
With the pair of wins, UC Irvine improves to 20-4 overall and 14-3 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
UC Irvine returns home Wednesday, April 1st to host CSUN at the Bren Events Center.