Brande: Exciting matches coming

The UC Irvine men's volleyball team will enjoy an exciting week in its schedule as the Anteaters play host to Pepperdine on Wednesday and the highly regarded USC Trojans on Friday night.

Both matches are at 7 p.m. at the Bren Events Center. This is an opportunity to watch the talented UCI men's team (5-2, 1-2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation), ranked No. 2 in the nation, and two high-ranked teams. Pepperdine, ranked No. 6, and fifth-ranked USC always are the biggest draws when they play at UCI.

Pepperdine is 5-1 and 4-0 in MPSF play. The Waves are led by Josh Taylor, an outstanding 6-foot-7 freshman from Punahou High in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Waves captain is Doug Astor, who played at Orange Coast College and is the brother of Newport Harbor boys' coach, Steve Astor. Corona del Mar freshman Evan Dean is also on the roster and battling for playing time.

USC (3-2, 2-2), which lost a pair of MPSF matches at BYU last weekend, is led by senior Tony Ciarelli, whose uncle, also Tony Ciarelli, is the longtime throw and strength coach at Newport Harbor High. Young Tony is talented and very colorful. He will have a large "family" contingency in the stands.

The Trojans, as always, have a number of local players on their roster. Newport Harbor's J.B. Green is a libero for the Trojans and brings that same charismatic success-driven persona that he showed as a football and volleyball player while at Newport. Jeff Carlson from Corona del Mar High, has spent time as the starting outside hitter opposite Ciarelli. An extremely talented beach player, Jeff's ball-control and ability to attack have earned him this spot. Also seeing some time is Joey Booth, who enjoyed an extremely successful year at Corona del Mar before redshirting last season at USC.

Former Balboa Bay Volleyball Club players Steve Shandrick and Tanner Jansen are starting at the middle blocker and opposite positions. Both played high school at Santa Margarita.

This is the only opportunity to watch Pepperdine and USC at UCI this season. The NCAA Championship matches will by hosted by USC at the Galen Center on May 3 and May 5.

CHARLIE BRANDE is a former head coach at Newport Harbor High, Corona del Mar and UC Irvine.

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