Briefs: Davis red hot for UCSB

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — UC Santa Barbara middle blocker Dylan Davis, a Corona del Mar High product, has led the Gauchos men's volleyball team to the brink of history.

Davis had a career-high 15 kills and set a tournament hitting record Thursday night as the No. 4-seeded Gauchos stunned top-seeded USC, 29-27, 24-26, 25-15, 25-18, in an NCAA Tournament semifinal at Penn State.

UC Santa Barbara will play Ohio State on Saturday in the NCAA championship match. The Gauchos (18-14) are seeking their first NCAA men's volleyball title in program history.

Davis, a sophomore, set an NCAA tournament record Thursday by hitting .882 (15 kills in 17 attempts). The 15 kills tied him for the team lead with senior Cullen Irons. Davis also had two block assists in helping the Gauchos defeat USC for the second time in five days. UC Santa Barbara first upset USC in five sets in the final of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament on Saturday.

Another former CdM player, senior middle blocker Scott Slaughter, had seven kills Thursday night for UC Santa Barbara, which also includes reserve outside hitters Blaine and Weston Nielsen.

Ohio State defeated host Penn State in four sets in the other semifinal, 25-18, 24-26, 25-22, 25-23. The roster for the No. 3-seeded Buckeyes includes Orange Coast College product Mike Stewart, a middle blocker.

The NCAA championship match is scheduled for 4 p.m. PDT Saturday and will be shown on ESPN2.

— From staff reports

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DeMarzo to Iona

Costa Mesa High senior girls' water polo player Ashley DeMarzo has committed to Iona College in New York, Mustangs Coach Tim Postiff said.

DeMarzo was a Daily Pilot Dream Team selection as a senior for Costa Mesa. The three-year varsity player scored 44 goals, second on the team. She was a first-team All-Orange Coast League selection for the Mustangs (15-14), helping them advance to the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs after missing them last year.

Iona College is a Division I program. The Gaels won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference this year and are in a NCAA Division I Playoffs play-in game on Saturday.

— From staff reports

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Ross heads to USC

Sage Hill School senior running back Taylor Ross will be a preferred walk-on football player at USC, said Lightning Coach J.R. Tolver.

Ross, the Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team Offensive Player of the Year, rushed for 1,869 yards and 26 touchdowns, both set single-season records at Sage Hill. The yards and touchdowns also ranked Ross third and second in Orange County.

Ross was named to the Cal-Hi Sports All-State Small Schools second team as a multi-purpose pick, running back, defensive back and kicker, the All-CIF Southern Section East Valley Division, and the Academy League Offensive MVP.

Ross helped the Lightning (8-3, 2-1 in league) qualify for the CIF Southern Section East Valley Division playoffs for the second straight year.

— From staff reports

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Kearney in field

UC Irvine junior Chris Kearney has been selected to compete in the NCAA Division I individual men's tennis championships, May 25-30 at Stanford University.

Kearney, the Big West Conference Player of the Year, received the conference's automatic birth into the 64-player NCAA singles draw, for which pairings have not been announced.

Kearney has a 22-8 singles record, 16-7 in dual matches. He is ranked No. 42 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Assn. He helped lead UCI to its second straight Big West title and a berth into the NCAA Tournament.

The Anteaters (19-7) take on Mississippi in the opening round May 13 at UCLA.

— From staff reports

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Byron singled out

UC Irvine junior Courtney Byron earned first-team All-Big West Conference honors in singles for the second straight season to highlight four Anteaters recognized this season.

Byron is the lone first-team pick from UCI, which advanced to the Big West Tournament final on Sunday.

UCI sophomore Kristina Smith is a second-team pick in singles, while the Anteaters' tandem of senior Becka Kwan and junior Hannah Holladay are second-team doubles honorees.

Kwan (singles), as well as the pairing of Byron and Smith (doubles) received honorable mention in all-conference voting.

Jenifer Widjaja of Pacific is the Player of the Year, Bill Maze of UC Davis is Coach of the Year and Megan Heneghan from UC Davis is Freshman of the Year.

Jill Damion, a Corona del Mar High product who is a senior at UC Santa Barbara, received honorable mention in singles and doubles.

— From staff reports

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