After a grueling weekend in Phoenix, UC Irvine Men’s Volleyball (7-1) returned to Irvine Wednesday to beat neighboring Concordia University (2-2) in a 4-1 battle. The win marks the fifth straight victory for the no. 6 ranked UCI team.
Coming off a weekend where junior outside hitter Karl Apfelbach was named Buffalo Wild Wings Anteater of the week, sophomore middle blocker Scott Stadick was named Big West Defensive Player of the Week, and freshman outside hitter Joel Schneidmiller was named Big West freshman of the week, the Anteaters had big expectations to fill.
Nevertheless, they performed masterfully, even without senior Aaron Koubi who was out with a thumb injury. Apfelbach recorded 16 kills, Schneidmiller matched a career high of 12 kills, and Stadick recorded 9 kills 4 blocks. Junior outside hitter JB Kam (20) also recorded a season high 3 server aces, junior setter Dante Chakravorti (2) recorded 38 set assists, and senior libero David Parker (11) recorded a season high 13 digs.
The Anteaters took an early lead in set one, running up 7 unanswered points, led by a handful of flawless cross court kills by Apfelbach. But the Eagles fought back, keeping the score blow for blow till the end of the match where a Chakravorti serving run was capped off by a Apfelbach kill to secure a round win for UCI.
Set two began with another early Anteater lead, and by the end of the set Apfelbach had 10 kills, Chakravorti had 23 assists, and Stadick had 5 kills. At the end of set two, Concordia hadn’t lead the Anteaters in points once.
But Concordia wouldn’t be defeated easily.
The third set began with a vicious volley between UCI and Concordia, and after a questionable call, Concordia finally took the lead 1-0. The small victory appeared to fuel the Eagles who went quickly went up 8-1 over UCI. At this point, UCI appeared visibly frustrated at the play of their opponents.
“Concordia made some awesome digs and we lost some rallies” said assistant coach Jordan Cheng after the game, “But I think with a younger team it’s just learning not to freak out.”
Though UCI lost the third set, they quickly returned to form in the fourth set. Led by Stadick’s impeccable defense, Irvine inched their way to an outstanding victory which was capped by another Karl Apfelbach kill.
UCI will be facing their rivals, no. 5 BYU (5-1) this weekend at the Bren. To beat BYU, Cheng says the team will “have to understand that a points a point.”
“I think these guys are getting better,” said Cheng in a post-game recap.
“Our servers did a good job getting the other team out of system, so our blockers had a little more time to get a read and put together a well formed block.”
The victory against Concordia was another excellent display of Anteater defense and offensive attacks. Surely, if they carry this into Friday night, BYU will be in for trouble at the Bren.