The UCI Men’s Volleyball squad (3-0) wiped the floor with the Emmanuel College Lions (1-1), winning in three sets at the Bren Events Center on Friday, Jan. 13.
The first set began with an astonishing block from senior outside hitter Akhil Tangutur that fell into Lion territory. After an attack error on UCI’s part, the Anteaters went on to score three more off an offensive play from Tangutur and two incredible defensive plays from junior middle blocker Connor Campbell and redshirt junior outside hitter Cole Gillis, making it 4-1.
On Emmanuel College’s side, junior outside hitter Jayden Young made some amazing offensive plays, scoring the Lions a few kills despite UCI outpacing them offensively.
Although Emmanuel College scored as a result of a few more kills, some defensive blocks, and a few attack errors on UCI’s end, the Anteaters outscored their opponents by a wide margin. Kills were coming in left and right from junior outside hitter Francesco Sani and redshirt junior setter Joe Karlous. After several attack errors from the Lions, UCI gained a 16-9 lead.
Towards the end of the set, several offensive attempts went short into the net, which granted each team a couple more points. Before the set closed, Emmanuel College went on to score only three more kills. Ultimately, the Anteater offense outperformed the Emmanuel College Men’s Volleyball squad, securing UCI their first set, 1-0.
The Lions got into a good rhythm with several kills to start the second set, taking an early 4-2 lead, but they left the door open for the Anteaters after multiple serving violations. Kills by Sani and Campbell brought the second set to equal footing. With back-to-back double blocks by Campbell and Tangutur, UCI took the momentum. Following, Sani and freshman middle blocker Maxim Grigoriev displayed their offensive advantage over the Lions.
The Lions then went on a run through kills by Young and sophomore middle blocker Daniel Beacham, giving them back the lead 15-13 at the media timeout. Campbell then came up big in back-to-back blocks to tie things up 17-17.
The Anteaters kept the kills coming to finish off the set. Powerful kills by Sani grazed off the Lions, careening the ball out of bounds for Irvine points. Sani then did some work on the defensive end with a stalwart block. Despite resilience from the Lions, Gillis finished off the second set with a score of 25-21.
The third set of the game began with an incredible, quick kill from Karlous to give the Anteaters the first edge over the Lions. Emmanuel College tied the set at 1-1 with a kill from freshman outside hitter Aidan Feeney. UCI went on a 9-3 run of their own with another kill from Karlous and a few key attack errors forced out of the Lions, making it a 10-4 set.
The offensive onslaught continued with two more kills from Gillis, an ace from Karlous and more unforced errors by the Lions to make it a 20-10 game. The Lions scored a few more points due to UCI attack errors followed by a few good kills of their own, yet ultimately they did not have an answer to the Anteater offense. Sani scored the final kill to end the match 25-11, granting UCI their third win of the season and their third set in an uncontested fashion.
Phillip Lemus is a Sports Staff Writer for the winter 2023 quarter. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Miguel Rodriguez is a Sports Staff Writer for the winter 2023 quarter. He can be reached at email@example.com.