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UCI stuns Matadors

VOLLEYBALL: Anteaters gain momentum from winning marathon Game 3 to score upset over Cal State Northridge Tuesday.

April 02, 2008|By David Carrillo Pe├▒aloza

IRVINE — UC Irvine Coach John Speraw has treated his players like a hip-hop DJ does records at a club.

He’s been mixing up the men’s volleyball lineup. It has been inconsistent as the season.

There have been many scratches.

One almost happened after Game 1 against No. 2-ranked Cal State Northridge Tuesday night at Bren Events Center. Jordan DuFault had a negative hitting percentage and standing near the bench seemed more appropriate than on the court in the next game.

“I was thinking about making a move right there,” Speraw said. “Well, I just decided, you know, I’ve been making a lot of moves. I was going to let him hang in there for a little while longer.”

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Speraw kept playing DuFault and the outside hitter delivered music to his coach’s ears. DuFault hit booming shots, balls smacked off his wrists, and then came those block assists.

The freshmen contributed in so many ways as the No. 9 Anteaters pulled off a 28-30, 30-24, 42-40, 30-18 upset in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match, ending the Matadors’ 14-match winning streak.

DuFault finished with 16 kills and 12 digs and seven block assists, the last two were career-highs. It was a surprising night for him and the Anteaters, who played an exciting Game 3 that featured 12-game point situations. It finally ended in UCI’s favor, 42-40, and went into the record books as the longest game in school history.

In the last six days, UCI (13-13, 9-10 in MPSF) has beaten the MPSF leader.

Long Beach State was atop the standings last week. The Matadors (20-5, 15-4) came into this week in first place and with a school-record winning streak. This despite being without standout middle blocker Cody Loe, who Coach Jeff Campbell said has missed the last four matches due to breaking team rules.

It was another big victory for the Anteaters. But they sandwiched a disappointing five-game loss in between at UC San Diego, which is near the MSPF cellar. The Anteaters aren’t so far ahead.

UCI finds itself near the bottom in regards to the top eight teams advancing to the MPSF Tournament, the qualifier to the NCAA Championships, which will be at UCI for the first time.

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