UCI takes down Speraw, UCLA in five

SANTA BARBARA — The UC Irvine men's volleyball team, ranked No. 1 in the nation, captured the UCSB Invitational with a 25-17, 25-17, 24-26, 22-25,15-13 victory over No. 6 UCLA at Robertson Gym Saturday.

It is the fourth time UCI has won the tournament (2003, 2007, 2012) as the Anteaters improve to 3-0 on the year. UCLA goes to 2-1.

Junior middle blocker Collin Mehring was named the tournament MVP, while junior outside hitter Connor Hughes was selected to the all-tournament team.

Sophomore opposite Zack La Cavera led UCI against the Bruins with a career-high 17 kills and four aces. Junior outside hitter Jeremy Dejno added 13 kills without committing an error (.481) and recorded two aces and seven digs. Hughes and middle blocker Scott Kevorken each recorded 10 kills with Kevorken totaling a match-best five block assists. Setter Chris Austin had 35 set assists and seven digs, while libero Michael Brinkley recorded a team-high 16 digs.

Robert Page paced UCLA with 17 kills followed by Scott Vegas with 15 kills. Evan Mottram totaled a match-high 20 digs for the Bruins, coached by former UCI head man John Speraw.

UCLA setter Connor Bannan, a Corona del Mar High product, had 53 assists.

In the first set UCI used a Bruin service error and a block by Scott Kevorken and Connor Hughes to take a 17-12 lead. Hughes would have the set winner 25-17.

In the second set UCI opened a 6-0 lead on three UCLA miscues and a kill by Kevorken that was followed by a kill and ace by Jeremy Dejno. UCI never looked back taking the set 25-17.

In a closely contested third set, the lead was never more than two and the teams were tied 18 times. At 24-24, UCLA had a kill and a UCI attack error to win the set 26-24.

The Bruins went on a 3-0 run to take an 11-8 advantage in the fourth set and that is all they needed as they never relinquished the lead and won 25-22.

UCLA held an 11-9 advantage in the fifth set before Dejno put away back-to-back kills to knot the game at 11-11. The teams traded points until 13-13 when a triple block by Hughes, Kevorken and Kyle Russell set up match point. Hughes ended the match with a kill.

The Anteaters, the defending national champions, will return home to face No. 4 Pepperdine Tuesday and No. 9 USC Friday. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. in the Bren Events Center.

— From UC Irvine Athletics

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