IRVINE, Calif. – No. 8 UC Irvine blanked Grand Canyon 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 29-27) in the first ever meeting between the teams at the Bren Events Center Friday.
UCI out-hit GCU .404-.209 and had a 34-20 dig advantage. The Anteaters improve to 4-0 on the year, while the Antelopes open the season with a loss.
Outside hitter Tamir Hershko led all players with 13 kills, hitting .632. Middle blocker Scott Stadick and outside hitter Thomas Hodges each added eight kills with Hodges totaling a team-high six digs and Stadick recording a team-best three block assists. Setter Michael Saeta put down seven kills to go with 28 set assists, two aces and four digs. Middle blocker Matthew Younggren hit .600 (6-0-10), while outside hitter David Parker hit .625 (6-1-8). Setter Dante Chakravorti joined Hodges with six digs and had 15 set assists.
Grand Canyon was led by Ashton King's eight kills. Shalev Saada and Luke Turner chipped in seven kills apiece.
UCI started with a 4-0 lead, but GCU quickly got back in to the set and after scoring three in a row the Antelopes took a 10-8 advantage. UCI gained control after Michael Saeta stepped to the service line where he fired two aces and guided the Anteaters to an 18-12 lead. Saeta would put away the set winner 25-20.
Tamir Hershko had four kills and joined Thomas Hodges and Scott Stadick for a triple block as UCI gained a 19-14 advantage in the second set. The Anteaters would win the set 25-19 on a Hodges kill. UCI hit .517 (19-4-29), while the Antelopes hit .308 (11-3-26).
With the third set knotted at 26-26, a Hershko kill was followed by a Grand Canyon attack that sailed long to give UCI the match 29-27.
UCI hits the road next week, traveling to UC Santa Barbara Wednesday (Jan. 11) and UCLA Thursday (Jan. 12).