RIVERSIDE, Calif. – No. 6 UC Irvine used a dynamic middle attack to beat Cal Baptist 3-1 (27-29, 25-15, 25-17, 25-16) at Van Dyne Gym Wednesday.
The Anteaters, who improve to 8-3 overall and 5-2 in the MPSF, out-blocked CBU 11-6.5 and out-hit the Lancers .369-.092.
The middles were dominant as Matthew Younggren hit .636 (8-1-15) with a career-high seven block assists and Andrew Benz hit .533 (8-0-15). Senior Thomas Hodges led all players with 16 kills and five blocks. Setter Michael Seata did it all, hitting .556 (6-1-9), recording 34 set assists, four aces, five digs and three blocks. Reid Dominquez pitched in four kills and two aces. Libero Dillon Hoffman had a match-high 12 digs and Tucker Pikula added eight digs.
Kevin Vaz led Cal Baptist with 12 kills and four total blocks followed by Enrique Garcia with nine kills and Rohit Paul with eight kills.
Cal Baptist jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first set and continued to lead until UCI went on a 6-0 run which included four kills by Thomas Hodges and a block and kill by Michael Saeta to go up 20-17. CBU would rally late on three consecutive kills to take a 25-24 lead. The teams would trade points before the Lancers had a kill by Kevin Vaz and a triple block to seal the 27-25 victory.
UCI had a solo block by Saeta, a block by Hodges and Younggren and an ace by Tamir Hershko to move out to a 4-1 advantage in the second set. Another solo block by Saeta and a Lancer attack error helped UCI to a 9-6 lead. UCI went on to win the set 25-15 on the strength of four blocks and three aces.
Saeta's dominant serving started the Anteaters off with a 4-0 lead in the third. A kill by Hodges on a back set from Younggren extended the margin to 7-1 and a Lancer miscue to 9-1. The Anteaters would win the set 25-17 on a Saeta ace. UCI hit .545 to CBU's .043.
The fourth set started much like the third with Saeta's serving putting CBU out of system and giving the Anteaters a 6-0 lead. Reid Dominquez would lead UCI with three kills on the way to a 25-16 victory.
UCI entertains USC Friday (Feb. 3) at the Bren Events Center beginning at 7:00 p.m.