Men’s volleyball still searching for answers after BYU sweep

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UCI’s men’s volleyball team is still looking for answers after suffering a 3-0 sweep by scores of 20, 23, and 20 to No. 3 BYU at the Bren Events Center Friday night. With the loss, the Anteater’s drop to 2-5 and 1-4 in MPSF play, while the Cougars improve to 5-2 and 3-2.

Evidently the team is still in search of finding the right combination of players to have on the court as Friday night’s starting lineup of David Parker, Thomas Hodges, Dante Chakravorti, Marty Ross, Tamir Hershko and Andrew Benz was yet another new starting rotation.

“I think we definitely have a lot of personnel questions that we don’t have answers to yet,” said head coach David Kniffin.

Senior outside hitter Kyle Russell paced the Anteaters with 14 kills while hitting for .308. Behind Russell, junior opposite Tamir Herhsko shouldered the offensive load with 10 kills on 25 swings and four errors for a .240 clip. Setting duties were split between junior Michael Saeta and freshman Dante Chakravorti whom combined for 29 assists, while junior libero Dillon Hoffman tallied six digs.

Senior Kyle Russell led the 'Eaters with 14 kills to go along a .308 clip.
Senior Kyle Russell led the ‘Eaters with 14 kills to go along a .308 clip.

BYU was led by sophomore Ben Patch, who hit a flawless .667 with 16 kills on 24 swings and no errors. Sophomore outside hitter Brenden Sander added seven kills and one service ace, and sophomore libero Erik Sikes had a match-high nine digs.

The third-ranked Cougars more than doubled the Anteater’s offensive efficiency on the night, hitting .403 to UCI’s 190. However, both teams were plagued by service errors throughout the night; UCI with 17, and BYU with 14.  

“As a team we just have to keep playing with competitive fire, we found it here and there throughout the match […],” said Russell. “We just have to maintain that fire the whole time.”

Both teams stayed closed by one another in opening points of the first set, but the Cougars soon took a 15-12 lead off a 7-3 run. UCI came within one of closing the deficit at 17-18 but BYU would use another 7-3 run to close out the set 25-20.

Despite the Cougars committing a match-high eight service errors in the second set, the ‘Eaters still fell short. Of the Anteaters’ first six points, four of them were due to BYU service errors and two from UCI aces. After a Hershko kill tied the game at seven points apiece, a series of ‘Eater attack errors soon gave the Cougars a 12-8 lead. The two teams exchange service errors over the next four points, before BYU took a 16-11 lead off a ‘Eater service error and service ace by Patch. A quarter of kills by Dominquez helped the ‘Eaters rally back to within one again at 17-18, but a double-block and Patch kill helped BYU to 22-18. UCI nearly rallied from behind to take the set off a pair of kills from both Russell and Herhsko, but fell just short at 23-25.

UCI held an early 8-6 lead in the third set, but BYU would score 13 of the next 18 points to lead 19-14. The Anteaters never recovered and conceded the set 20-25 off a pair of service errors.  

Due to tomorrow’s Homecoming festivities, the ‘Eaters will have less than 24 hours to regroup before tomorrow as the team will face BYU once more in the Bren with a 2 pm start time.

“There needs to be a lot of questions asked about how we want to compete, I don’t think those are quick fixes, but I hope the guys go home and ask those difficult questions,” said Kniffin.

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