Seven Straight For No. 1 UC Irvine
IRVINE, Calif. --- Jeremy Dejno blasted a team-high 16 kills and Kevin Tillie posted his second double-double of the year with 14 kills and 16 digs to lead top-ranked UC Irvine to a 3-1 win over No. 15 UC Santa Barbara Thursday at the Bren Center.
Tillie led UCI (11-3, 8-3) at the net with four block assists while firing two aces and Dejno picked up eight digs to go along with three blocks and an ace. Connor Hughes also was a force for the Anteaters, delivering 11 kills while hitting .348 (11k -3e – 23 ta). Scott Kevorken topped the middles with six kills and had a lone error in nine attempts to end the night with a .556 clip. Daniel Stork handed out 49 assists in the win.
The Anteaters, who have now won seven consecutive matches, found themselves behind 9-7 on an ace by Matt Marsh in the first set. UCI would catch the Gauchos at 13-13 as Dejno and Kevorken denied Miles Evans but the at 15-15, UCSB cobbled together a 4-1 run to take a 19-16 lead and force UCI to use its second timeout. The lead extended to four at 21-17 as Dejno's attempt fell short into the net and the Gauchos would win the first set on a service error by Chris Austin.
UCSB took the early 7-4 lead in the second frame but an ace by Kevorken, that was too hot to handle, closed the deficit to one. Tillie and Colin Mehring paired up on the ensuing play to send back a Marsh attempt, knotting the score at 7-7. The two teams traded points before the Gauchos would use a three-point rally to take a 14-11 advantage. UCI responded by out-scoring UCSB 7-1, capitalizing on four consecutive errors by Evans. The Anteaters maintained control the rest of the way and took the second set on a service error by Evan Licht.
The Anteaters jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the third set behind back-to-back kills by Jason Agopian and Dejno. UCI hit a match-high .345 in the frame while holding the Gauchos to a .172 clip. UCI led by as many as eight (16-12) but saw the lead whittled down to two at 19-17. A blind dig by Hughes led to a cross-court kill by Dejno to extended UCI's lead to four again at 21-17 but UCSB trimmed the gap to one at 22-21 on a triple block. However, UCSB was unable to maintain the momentum as Evans committed a service error on the next play. Kevorken and Tillie then denied Marsh for set point and Kevorken would find Tillie for the kill to give UCI a 2-1 set lead.
The Gauchos came out fast in the fourth set to lead 8-4 but UCI quickly answered with four consecutive points, capped by an ace from Tillie as UCI took an 11-10 edge. The two teams traded points but with UCI trailing by one at 14-13, Dejno sparked the Anteaters with a kill down the middle to tie the score. Stork found Hughes for a line shot and Dejno dropped an ace in front of Chad Kingi for a 17-14 lead. The Anteaters maintained control the rest of the way and it was Dejno, who delivered an off-speed roll shot to clinch the win.
The Anteaters travel to UC San Diego Saturday for a 7:00 p.m. match.