IRVINE, Calif. – Six different UC Irvine men's volleyball players had at least five kills in a 3-0 (38-36, 25-18, 25-20) season-opening victory over Concordia at CU Arena Thursday.
Freshman Scott Stadick led the eighth-ranked Anteaters with nine kills and eight block assists in his UCI debut. Opposite Karl Apfelbach had eight kills followed by Thomas Hodges who came off the bench to spark UCI with seven kills on 11 attempts and no errors (.636). Seniors Tamir Hershko and Michael Saeta each had six kills, while Saeta also posted 33 set assists and two aces. Middle blocker Matthew Younggren added five kills. Libero Dillon Hoffman had a match-high 17 digs and outside hitter Tucker Pikula recorded four kills, seven digs and five block assists in the win.
The Anteaters out-hit Concordia .234-.162, but the Eagles held the 9.5-9.0 blocking edge. UCI totaled four aces to CU's 1.
Concordia was led by Hunter Howell's match-best 11 kills. Andrew Hammer, Joseph Pillon and Jonathon Predney all had six kills.
In the first set, 7-0 freshman Scott Stadick made his presence known quickly recording a block assist and a solo block on consecutive plays as soon as he got to the net, 3-2. The teams remained close until Concordia peeled off three straight to take a 19-16 lead. Senior Tamir Hershko recorded his first kill of the year to bring UCI within 20-18, but then back-to-back Anteater errors gave the Eagles the 22-18 cushion. A kill by Tucker Pikula, a block by Stadick and Karl Apfelbach, an ace by Mattew Younggren, a kill by Stadick and another block by Stadick and Pikula put the Anteaters back on top 23-22. Enough points to finish another set was played before a Concordia service error was followed by a kill by Apfelbach to give UCI the 38-36 victory. Each team committed seven service errors to lengthen the set.
UCI used kills by Younggren and Hershko plus a Concordia miscue to open a 7-4 lead in the second set. Consecutive Anteater attack errors brought the Eagles to 11-10, but UCI would go on a 6-2 run capped by another Younggren kill to extend the lead to 17-12. A Thomas Hodges ace ended the set, 25-18.
With Concordia leading 15-10 in the third, Hodges took over pounding four kills to get UCI within 16-15. Saeta fired two aces in conjunction with an Eagle setting error to take an 18-16 advantage. With the score tied 20-20, UCI scored the final five points of the match with Stadick putting away the final two kills, 25-20.
UCI returns home for three matches next week, hosting Fort Wayne Tuesday (Jan. 3) in the Bren Events Center then UC San Diego Thursday (Jan. 5) at Crawford Court and Grand Canyon Friday (Jan. 6) back in the Bren. All matches begin at 7:00 p.m.
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