No. 5 UC Irvine upended BYU men’s volleyball in four sets (25-23, 22-25, 19-25, 18-25) Saturday night. The match marked BYU’s sixth-consecutive loss.
The Anteaters beat the Cougars twice in a row Friday and Saturday night and perpetuated BYU’s longest losing streak since 1991.
“We knew they were going to be great coming in,” BYU head coach Chris McGown said. “They were better offensively tonight than they were the night before. They gave us opportunities last night … but tonight they had it going.”
The Cougars got off to a rocky start by committing basic errors that gave UCI free points. Price Jarman and Robbie Sutton served two aces within the first eight points, but the teams traded points until the score was tied 7-7. Jake Langlois then hit back-to-back kills and assisted a block with Jarman to take a 10-7 lead. Kills from Jarman and Matt Underwood stretched the lead to 16-10. BYU eventually reached set point 24-20, but UCI battled for three more plays before Michael Hatch’s kill finished it 25-23.
BYU couldn’t continue the momentum and repeated Friday’s second-set loss to UCI. The Cougars started the set with an early lead 8-4, but the Anteaters caught up to tie the game 10-10. Underwood’s six kills in the set helped the Cougars battle through a tied 21-21 score, but UCI kills and hitting errors from BYU allowed the Anteaters to finish the set 25-22.
“UCI is a great defensive team,” Underwood said. “They have strengths in every position. Tonight I feel like we battled harder, but it was the same result.”
The Cougars did create a tough battle against Irvine. Neither team gained a significant lead in the third set, and kills from Langlois, Hatch and Sander were met equally by the Anteaters. After a tied score at 16-16, UCI went on a hitting spree for a 20-16 lead. BYU gained three more points from UCI missed serves before the Anteaters won 25-19.
McGown changed the lineup for the fourth set, giving setter Tyler Heap and outside hitter Phil Fuchs a chance to see the court. Fuchs came in and hit three kills, but the Cougars couldn’t keep up with the dominant Anteaters who maintained a five-point lead for most of the set. UCI finished the match with a kill that won the set 25-18.
Men’s volleyball looks to end its losing streak in its next match at Cal State Northridge April 10–11. The Cougars will then return to the Smith Fieldhouse to compete against Hawaii for senior night April 17–18.