In a one-sided affair that last a little over an hour-and-a-half, No. 11 UCI were swept by top-ranked Long Beach State (25-19, 25-22, 25-23) at the Walter Pyramid Friday night.
The Anteaters (4-10, 3-9 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) have now accumulated double the number of losses at the halfway mark of the season than they had throughout the entirety of last year, where they finished 27-5 overall.
In a night filled with a total of 21 tie scores, the Anteaters did manage to be competitive at times against the Beach (13-2, 10-2 MPSF), but struggled to remain consistent in their play. The lead only changed a total of four times on the night.
“I think at times we did a good job, but I think that’s been true for the season, and if you just do that only at times, it’s going to be hard to actually win,” said senior middle blocker Jason Agopian, who finished with seven kills on a .385 hitting percentage (7-2-13).
While the Anteaters produced more kills than the 49ers in the first set (14-13), the visiting team was outgunned in services aces (3-0) and total team blocks (4.0-1.0), and was hindered by four service errors. Seniors middle blocker Marty Ross and outside hitter Kyle Russell constituted the bulk of the Anteater’s offense with five kills each.
Russell went on to have a match-high 16 kills on a .194 clip, while Ross tallied only one more kill the rest of the match to finish with a perfect six kills on six swings.
“Tonight, I believe that our passing wasn’t too good, and people always talk about it as cliché, but serving and passing is big,” said Agopian.
Neither team had a particularly impressive night from the service line, as UCI tallied total 14 service errors and LBSU 15. However, the Beach procured twice as many service aces (6-3) than the Anteaters.
During the second set, UCI matched the Beach in service aces (2), (digs (4), and blocks (1.0), but trailed LBSU 14-11 in kills. Kills by Agopian and Russell helped the Anteaters come within two at 20-22 after trailing 16-22, but Long Beach took turns siding-out with the Anteaters to clinch the set 25-22.
After junior middle blocker Andrew Benz was subbed in for Ross in the third set, it appeared the Anteaters had found an answer to the Beach as a solo block by the Anaheim native capped off a 5-0 run for the visitors. However, the team’s celebration was short-lived as LBSU soon tied the game at 7 all. The two team would side-out with one another until the home team took a 22-19 lead en route to completing the sweep.
LBSU ended the night outhitting UCI .382-.280, and out-blocked the visitors 9.0-4.0
Long Beach State was led by junior outside hitter Eric Ensing with 10 kills, while outside hitter TJ DeFalco, and middle blockers Taylor Gregory, and Bryce Yould had 7 kills each.
With the loss, the Anteaters conclude their four-game road slate, and return to the Bren Events Center next week to host No. 4 Stanford (11-2, 9-2) Friday and No. 19 Pepperdine (6-5, 5-5) the day after.