Although a trying season still awaits the UCI men’s volleyball team, the Anteaters provided a small preview of the team’s potential with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-13, 25-13) exhibition victory over Concordia University at the Bren Events Center Wednesday night.
Throughout the course of the match, a total of 13 Anteaters saw action against their Division II neighbors. With the departure of four seniors from last year’s team that ended the season with a No. 3 ranking, head coach David Kniffin has stated that the team first needs to find its identity.
“I think we’re getting a pretty good sense,” said Kniffin. “It was just nice to see the new faces on the court. We got some guys that worked really hard last year behind the scenes that no one got a chance to see, it was good to see them finally get a chance to put on a jersey.”
Among the players that saw extensive playing time for the first time were senior middle blocker Marty Ross, who transferred from Pacific and saw limited minutes in 2014. Ross led the team in kills and blocks on the night, totaling a match-high 7.27 hitting percentage (8-0-11) and seven block assists. Sophomore outside hitter Reid Dominguez, who was used primarily as a serving specialist last season, also had a starring role in tonight’s match, and totaled seven kills, two service aces and two block assists.
Also of note is the fact that Wednesday’s game saw the debut of three freshmen. Redshirt opposite Karl Apfelbach had seven kills, four digs and a match-high 12 digs. David Parker, who shared libero duties with redshirt junior Dillon Hoffman, was close behind Apfelbach with 11 digs of his own. Finally, Dante Chakravorti, a true freshman from Illinois, racked up 25 assists as the starting setter for the first two sets.
After clinching the match, both teams played an additional fourth set, where the Anteaters emerged victorious 25-21.
With their lone exhibition match of the season now completed, the Anteaters will now embark on one of the nation’s most grueling schedules. UCI will kick off regular season play next week at BYU’s American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Showcase at the Smith Fieldhouse from Jan. 8 to Jan. 9, where they will face George Mason University and defending NCAA champions Loyola-Chicago.