Los Angeles, Calif. – UC Irvine came back from a two set deficit to defeat Stanford, 3-2 (20-25, 25-27, 25-21, 25-21, 15-12) to capture the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championship at the Galen Center Saturday.
UCI improves to 24-5 overall and advances to the NCAA Championship held at the Galen Center beginning Thursday (May 3).
All-American outside hitter Kevin Tillie had a career-high 24 kills and 13 kills to lead UCI. Connor Hughes totaled a career-high 19 kills and hit .515 (19-2-33) from the outside. Carson Clark, the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, also added 19 kills and five block assists. Middle blocker Dan McDonnell had 11 kills and five block assists, while middle blocker Austin D'Amore sparked the Anteaters with four kills and four blocks, including two solo in the final three sets. Setter Chris Austin totaled 61 set assists and 12 digs, while libero Michael Brinkley totaled 11 digs.
Tillie and McDonnell joined Clark on the all-tournament team.
Stanford (22-7) was led by Brad Lawson with 23 kills followed by Steven Irvin with 18 and Brian Cook with 13 kills. Cook and libero Erik Shoji each had a team-high 12 digs.
UCI started slowly in the first set, committing three errors in the first nine swings with no kills and a service error as Stanford lead 6-2. A Carson Clark kill tied the set at 9-9, but after trading points, Stanford would score three straight, the last an ace, to go up 13-10. UCI would get no closer than two the rest of the game as Stanford won 25-20.
With the score tied at 7-7 in the second set, Stanford would put down three consecutive kills and used an Anteater attack to pull away 11-7. The Cardinal continued to lead 18-16 when a kill by Carson Clark was followed by a block by Scott Kevorken and Chris Austin to knot to the score at 18-18 all. A pair of Tillie kills gave UCI the 22-21 lead, but Stanford rallied back to take the 23-22 advantage. Teams would trade points until Stanford scored two in a row to take the 27-25 victory.
UCI held an 18-15 lead in the third set, but Stanford would score three unanswered to tie it up at 18-18. A Dan McDonnell kill and block with Tillie pushed UCI ahead 20-18. A kill by Tillie, pound by Clark on an overpass plus a Cardinal attack error gave the Anteaters a 23-19 lead. A Clark kill and a Stanford attack that went into the net gave UCI the set, 25-21. UCI's block was the difference as Anteaters record 6.5 blocks in the set.
In the fourth set, UCI held a 14-13 lead before a pair of Tillie kills was followed by a Hughes kill to expand the advantage to 17-13. UCI held a 21-16 lead when Stanford had three straight kills to narrow the deficit to 21-19. Back-to-back kills by Clark extended the lead to 23-19. A Connor Hughes kill ended the set, 25-21 to force another game five.
UCI had a kill by D'Amore and a solo block by Chris Austin to take a 12-10 lead in the fifth. UCI would side out to take the set, 15-12 and the match 3-2.