No. 4 Anteaters upset by strong blocking from Pepperdine

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In a rematch of last year’s MPSF Tournament final, the No. 4 UCI men’s volleyball team was upset by No. 11 Pepperdine 3-1, (32-34, 21-25, 25-20, and 19-25) at the Firestone Fieldhouse Friday night in Malibu.

Both teams had a shaky night offensively, with each team logging below a .200 hitting percentage. However, it was the Pepperdine block that proved to be the difference, as the Waves recorded 16 total blocks to the Anteater’s seven.

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The Anteaters were out blocked by the Waves 16-7 in an upset loss at the Firestone Fieldhouse Friday night.

Several rotations were experimented with throughout the night, with a total of 11 Anteaters seeing action. Junior opposite Tamir Hershko had a match high 18 kills while adding nine digs, but was held to a .152 hitting percentage. Junior outside hitter Thomas Hodges logged seven kills on .167 hitting in his first match of the season after being sidelined with injury. Junior middle blocker Andrew Benz had a solid showing with a .455 hitting percentage on six kills out of 11 swings and one error. Sophomore outside hitter Tucker Pikula had a team high three service aces, and freshman libero David Parker paced the team with 10 digs.

The Waves were led by sophomore outside hitter Colby Harriman and senior opposite Matt Tarantino with a combined 27 kills, while senior middle blocker Tommy Caromdy had a match-high five total blocks.

Despite numerous opportunities in the first set, the Anteaters were unable to close out the Waves in an extended set that lasted 66 total points. The Anteaters held a comfortable 20-15 lead but the Waves rallied off five straight to tie the score at 20-20. A Hershko kill ended the run and the ‘Eaters held match-point at 24-23, but a bad set kept the Waves in the match. UCI went on to hold seven more match-points before the Waves scored three straight off two ‘Eater errors and one service ace to close the frame.

Pepperdine jumped out to a 6-2 advantage in the second set and never gave up control the rest of the way en route to a 25-21 win in the second. The Waves had seven total blocks in the second set to hold the ‘Eaters to an abysmal -.062 hitting percentage.

After the Waves staged a 5-1 run in the third to go up 20-18 in the third, it looked as if the ‘Eaters were on their way to being swept. After a Ross kill gave Pikula a chance to serve the ball, the Anteaters did not drop another point to take the set 25-20. Of the six times Pikula served, three were aces.

In the fourth set, the Waves responded in turn by demonstrating their own serving prowess. At 6-8, the Wave’s outside hitter David Wieczorek stepped to the service line and mirrored Pikula’s performance with three aces out of his serves. Leading 19-18, the Waves closed out the match on a 6-1 run that included three total blocks to complete the upset.

The Anteaters drop to 2-3,1-2 in MPSF play while the Waves improve to 4-1 (3-1 MPSF). UCI will look to snag a win on the road tonight when they face No. 8 Stanford at the Burnham Pavilion tonight.

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