SANTA BARBARA — Most would have expected the No. 6-ranked UC Irvine men’s volleyball team to finish sixth at the UCSB/Elephant Bar Collegiate Invitational facing No. 2-ranked UCLA Saturday.
But, Anteaters Coach John Speraw had other things in mind against his alma mater, where he used to work as an assistant under Coach Al Scates.
Speraw’s Anteaters upset the Bruins, 32-30, 30-25, 30-25, to take fifth place at the tournament.
Sophomore Jordan DuFault led UCI (3-1) with 15 kills, hitting .565. Carson Clark, a freshman for the Anteaters, totaled 13 kills, seven digs and five aces. His five aces rank tied for seventh in the UCI match records. Junior Bryan Simmons led all players with six blocks, while setter Ryan Ammerman recorded 32 set assists and three blocks for the Anteaters.
UCI hit .338 to the Bruins’ .196 and out-blocked UCLA 8.5-6.5. For the match, UCI fired 11 service aces.
Former Newport Harbor High standout Kyle Caldwell, a freshman for the Bruins, and Jack Polales paced UCLA with 12 kills each. Garrett Muagututia had five kills, five digs and four service aces for UCLA (1-2).
The Bruins led 28-26 in the first set before an attack error and a UCI block knotted the score at 28-28. The teams traded points until a kill by Taylor Wilson was followed by another Bruin attack error to give UCI the 32-30 victory.
The score was tied 15-15 in the second game before UCI reeled off seven straight to take the 22-15 advantage and stayed in control for the win.
UCI used a late run in the third set, outscoring UCLA, 4-1, on a pair of kills by DuFault, a kill by Kevin Wynne and an ace by Ryan Ammerman to go up 26-21. That was all the cushion the Anteaters would need as they closed out the game and the match.
UCI will head back to Santa Barbara Wednesday to play a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match against UC Santa Barbara.
— From staff reports