No. 3 UC Irvine Falls to Fort Wayne, Bounces Back Against No.10 Ball State and Stanford

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Fort Wayne

The no. 3 ranked men’s volleyball was upset by an unranked Fort Wayne team in five battling sets on Wednesday night at the Bren. Though the Anteaters recorded 22.5 blocks, the second best single game performance in the NCAA this season, untimely offensive errors resulted in a 2-3 loss. (18-25) (25-18) (23-25) (25-23) (9-15).

“It felt off the whole game,” said senior opposite Aaron Koubi. “They got points at important moments and that’s what turned the game. We didn’t play our game at all. We were at their speed, and that’s what got us.”

Koubi’s slight bewilderment after the game makes sense. Though the anteaters lost, they were not statistically outperformed. The anteaters committed 51 offensive errors, 11 fewer than Fort Wayne’s 62 attack errors. Additionally, the team’s 22.5 blocks, a season high, reared high above Fort Wayne’s 7 blocks.

Koubi led the Anteaters offensively with 14 kills, 5 digs, and 8 block assists. freshman Joel Schneidmiller followed Koubi closely with 12 kills, 3 digs, and 4 block assists. And junior Karl Apfelbach recorded 10 kills, 6 block assists. Apfelbach’s performance made it 10 straight games with double digit kills.

But the standout performance of the game by redshirt freshman Austin Wilmot, who recorded 5 kills, 2 solo blocks, and 10 block assists in his second start as an Anteater.

Wilmot ceded all questions about his performance in favor of answering about his team. When asked what the Anteaters would need to improve upon the upcoming night against the no. 10 Ball State team, Wilmot said, “I think we have to adjust on our swings and close to block more and play a complete game. They have a lot of good defenders out there, but we couldn’t seem to find the ground on some shots.”

“They played free the whole game, and we were tense,” Koubi said with finality, “and that’s what got us.” The Anteaters were frustrated at their upset loss to Fort Wayne on Wednesday, but confident they’d find footing on Thursday night against no. 10 Ball State.

Ball State

With immaculate precision, the no. 3 Anteater men’s volleyball team swept no. 10 Ball State on Thursday night. After suffering a heartbreaking loss to Fort Wayne the night before, the Anteaters flawlessly dominated Ball State with unperturbed expediency (25-23) (25-15) (25-20).

“I think a big thing that we were focused on was forgetting the night before.” said junior Karl Apfelbach, “Because of that, we all came together. We wanted to have good composure, and to make sure everyone was looking each other in the eyes if we made a mistake, to let each other know that ‘I got your back.’ Doing so helped us to regain the confidence we may have lacked against [Fort Wayne].”

Freshman Joel Schneidmiller led the Anteaters offensively with 10 kills, 1 server’s ace, 5 digs, and 6 block assists. Senior Aaron Koubi recorded 9 kills, 3 digs. Apfelbach recorded 9 kills, 2 server’s aces, and 2 block assists. Sophomore Scott Stadick recorded 6 kills, 1 server’s ace, 1 solo block, and 3 block assists. Freshman Austin Wilmot recorded 6 kills, and 4 block assists. Dante Chakravorti directed the Anteaters offense with 33 assists, 4 digs, and 1 block assist.

“I think we came back great from yesterday,” said Koubi. “Our composure was better, we were more together, we passed better, which made everything much easier, and we put good pressure on the service line.”

In the three sets, the Anteaters took early leads, and played efficiently to maintain them. They outshot Ball State in every set, with a team attack percentage of .269, .478, and .343 dominating Ball State’s .214, .032, and .269 percentages.

The Anteaters’s dominating victory against Ball State would provide necessary momentum to play the Stanford Cardinal in Palo Alto Saturday night. At their last meeting, the Anteaters swept the Cardinal handily in the Bren Event Center.

Stanford

The no. 3 Anteater men swept the Stanford Cardinal on the road Saturday night, marking the second sweep of Stanford this season by the Anteaters. (25-20) (26-24) (25-21)

After Wednesday’s heartbreaking loss against the unranked Fort Wayne, the Anteaters two consecutive sweeps against no. 10 Ball State and Stanford have brought UCI’s record to 13-5.

Junior Karl Apfelbach recorded 10 kills, 1 Server’s ace, and 3 digs. Sophomore Scott Stadick recorded 9 kills, and 2 blocks. Senior Aaron Koubi recorded 8 kills, 1 server’s ace, 3 digs. Freshman Joel Schneidmiller recorded 3 server’s aces, 1 block, 1 assist. And junior Dante Chakravorti recorded an attack percentage of .531 with 37 assists.

The Anteaters will be playing George Mason University on Tuesday night at the Bren and hope to continue their winning streak as the NCAA championship tournament grows closer.

 

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