LOS ANGELES, Calif. – No. 2 UCLA handed No. 7 UC Irvine its first loss with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-22) victory at Pauley Pavilion Thursday night.
The Anteaters (5-1, 2-1) were led by senior Michael Saeta with seven kills, seven digs and an ace. David Parker and Tucker Pikula each added five kills. 12 Anteaters saw action with Dillon Hoffman matching Saeta with a team-best seven digs.
UCLA out-blocked UCI (6-2), out-hit the Anteaters (.395-.216) and held a 7-2 ace advantage.
The Bruins (2-2, 1-0) were led by Daenan Gyimah's 14 kills, hitting .737 (14-0-9). Micah Ma'a hit .800 (8-0-10) and had 17 set assists, three aces and seven digs.
UCLA jumped out to an early 4-1 lead and held the 7-3 advantage until UCI had kills by Thomas Hodges and Matthew Younggren and a couple of Bruin errors to help tie the first set at 8 all. Back-to-back kills by Hodges and Reid Dominguez gave the Anteaters their first lead at 10-9. Six straight points by the Bruins gave UCLA control of the set 20-13 and they went on to win, 25-16.
An ace by Michael Saeta got UCI off to 3-1 start in the second set. A kill by Karl Apfelbach put UCI ahead 9-6, but UCLA would score the next four to take a 10-9 lead. Two UCI attack errors plus a kill by Micah Ma'a saw UCLA open the 15-12 advantage. UCI would get no closer than two the rest of the way, taking the set 25-18.
The Bruins started with another quick 3-0 lead in the third and extended the margin to 8-3. UCI chipped away and kills by David Parker and Saeta knotted the score at 12-12, but UCLA quickly countered with the next two points, 14-12. A Bruin service error was followed by a kill by Tucker Pikula and a block by Thomas Hodges in the middle to put UCI up 18-17. Back-to-back Bruin kills and an ace moved UCLA back in front 23-21. UCLA would win the set 25-22. Saeta moved out to the pins for the third set and recorded six kills.
UCI will travel to UC San Diego on Jan. 20 before hosting Hawaii Jan. 21 at 7:00 p.m. in the Bren Events Center.