No. 8 UC Irvine Beats Fort Wayne, 3-1 In Home Opener

No. 8 UC Irvine Beats Fort Wayne, 3-1 In Home Opener

IRVINE, Calif. – Eighth-ranked UC Irvine held Fort Wayne to a .094 hitting percentage in a 3-1 (25-19, 25-20, 23-25, 25-11) victory Tuesday in the home opener at the Bren Events Center.

The Anteaters (2-0) used 12 blocks to hold down the Fort Wayne (0-1) attack and fired seven aces, five by Michael Saeta to secure the victory.

Opposite Karl Apfelbach led UCI with 10 kills followed by outside hitters Thomas Hodges with nine and Tamir Hershko with eight. Middle blocker Matthew Younggren added seven kills, while fellow middle blocker Scott Stadick posted six kills, eight digs and nine total blocks. Setter Michael Saeta recorded three kills, 32 set assists, six digs and four blocks to go with his five aces. Outside hitter David Parker came off the bench to hit .714 (5-0-7) and libero Dillon Hoffman had a match-high 14 digs.

Vargas Pelegrin led the Mastodons with 10 kills and Colton Stone followed with nine. Graydon Schroeder had five block assists in the loss.

A pair Michael Saeta aces got the Anteaters started 3-1. A block by Karl Apfelbach and Matthew Younggren put UCI up 9-4 and a kill by Apfelbach extended the gap to 17-11. Fort Wayne would close to 18-14 before UCI ended the set on a 7-4 run, 25-19. Middle blocker Scott Stadick's defense was key, but this time away from the net, recording six digs.

The Mastodons scored three straight points, two on UCI errors to take a 17-14 advantage in the second set. The Anteaters responded on the strength of five IPFW errors, two Younggren kills and an ace by Thomas Hodges to move in front 22-19.  UCI would win 25-20 on Stadick and Tamir Hershko block. Neither team was productive offensively with UCI hitting .097 and Fort Wayne .065.

The teams remained close in the third until Fort Wayne used three UCI errors and a pair of kills by Vargas Pelegrin to give the Mastodons a 23-20 advantage late. Fort Wayne would extend the match, winning 25-23.

Saeta's hot serving gave UCI a 5-0 start in the fourth and more tough serving by David Parker opened an 8-1 advantage. The Anteaters would cruise to the 25-11 win and 3-1 victory.

UCI will take on UC San Diego in an MPSF match Thursday (Jan. 5) at Crawford Court then Grand Canyon in a non-conference contest Friday (Jan. 6) at the Bren Events Center. Both matches begin at 7:00 p.m.

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