Anteaters Control The Net As No. 1 UC Irvine Takes Down No. 4 Stanford, 3-1

Scott Kevorken

Palo Alto, Calif. – Top-ranked UC Irvine out-blocked Stanford 12-5.5 to take a 3-1 victory (25-18, 25-18, 20-25, 25-23) at Burnham Pavilion Friday. 

UCI, who is tied with BYU for the No. 1 ranking, had 12 blocks, which is tied for the second most this season led by Collin Mehring and Scott Kevorken with five total blocks each.

The Anteater improve to 9-3 overall and 6-3 in the MPSF, extending the winning streak to five, the longest of the season. Stanford goes to 7-4 on the year and 4-4 in the MPSF. Stanford suffered its first home loss of the year (6-1).

Senior All-American Kevin Tillie lead UCI with 18 kills, hitting .531 (18-1-32). The outside hitter also added three blocks, five digs and an ace. Outside hitter Jermey Dejno totaled 12 kills, two aces and seven digs, while opposite Zack La Cavera had nine kills, three aces and eight digs. Middle blocker Collin Mehring, who leads the MPSf in hitting percentage had another impressive performance with nine kills on 12 attempts and just one error (.667). Setter Daniel Stork recorded 41 set assists, seven digs and three blocks. Libero Michael Brinkley matched La Cavera for the team lead in digs with eight.

UCI out-hit (.304-.243) and had more aces (8-5), but Stanford held a 45-36 dig advantage.

Steven Irwin had a match-high 21kills and Brian Cook recorded 18 kills in the loss. Jake Kneller scooped 15 digs.

In the first set, two aces by Zack La Cavera plus a Stanford attack error and a kill by Jeremy Dejno helped UCI to an 8-4 lead. A block by Scott Kevorken and Daniel Stork, another Cardinal attack error and a kill by Kevin Tillie opened a 12-6 Anteater advantage. Stanford went on a 4-1 run to close within 16-15, but UCI answered with three straight points on a Tillie kill, a Stanford ball-handling error and a solo block by Dejno. UCI would score the final four points of the set, the last an ace by Kevorken to give the Anteaters the 25-18 victory.

With the score tied at 11-11, UCI had a kill by La Cavera, a bad set by a Cardinal player and a block by Collin Mehring and Stork to open a 14-11 advantage. La Cavera would take over with a pair of kills and a block with Kevorken to increase the margin to 19-14. UCI would win the set 25-18 behind six kills from Tillie.

Stanford started with a quick 6-0 lead in the third set and continued to lead comfortably most of the game. The Anteaters made a late run on a kill by Dejno a block by Stork and Kevorken, a kill by La Cavera, and an ace by Dejno to narrow the deficit to 23-19, but  the teams would trade points to end the set 25-20 in favor of the Cardinal.

UCI created some distance, 7-3 in the fourth set off of three consecutive Stanford errors. Two more Cardinal errors followed by an ace by dejno put UCI ahead 11-4. The Anteaters continued to lead 15-10 before Stanford made a move scoring the next three to inch to 15-13. After Stanford would catch UCI 17-17, the Anteaters had kills by Tillie and Mehring to put UCI back on top 19-17. A Cardinal service error and a block by Mehring and Tillie forced a Stanford timeout, 21-18. Stanford would get the next two points (21-20) until Tillie answered with a kill, 22-20. The teams would side out to give UCI the 25-23 victory.

UCI continues on the road, traveling to No. 11 Pacific Saturday (Feb. 9) at 7:30 p.m.