Although Irvine plays in what should be the most balanced league in Orange County boys' volleyball this season, the Vaqueros, ranked fourth in the county, opened Sea View League play with a lopsided 15-3, 15-6, 15-4 victory over 10th-ranked Newport Harbor Tuesday at Irvine High.
"I was surprised by the outcome," Irvine Coach Mark Mednick said. "It was a well-played match for us and we never let up. Playing Newport is never easy."
Except Tuesday night.
Irvine (6-1, 1-0 in league) had its offense running smoothly with Luke Carlson, Jeff Miller and Mark Ramirez each tallying six kills. The Vaqueros also played well on defense. Middle blocker Blair Eldridge had four blocks and Miller and Ramirez each had nine digs.
Newport Harbor (2-3, 0-1) struggled throughout the match. Greg Slick finished with a team-high five kills, but the Sailors had 40 assorted hitting, passing and serving errors.
Newport Harbor middle blocker Wes Badorek misfired on two consecutive spike attempts in Game 1, helping Carlson serve for seven consecutive points to give Irvine control. The teams were tied, 3-3, before the Vaqueros scored the final 12 points of the game.
Newport Harbor took a 4-0 lead in Game 2 but it was short-lived. Eldridge had three blocks in the game, helping Irvine score 14 of the next 15 points. In Game 3, Irvine scored the first four points and led, 13-2, before closing out the match.
"We know it isn't going to be this way all season," Mednick said. "The league is so balanced, any team can beat any other team in the league. Everything just went our way tonight."