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Fired-up Anteaters rout OSU

Men's Volleyball

Middle blocker McDonnell helps No. 5-ranked UCI, coming off embarrassing loss at UCLA, trounce No. 3-ranked Buckeyes at Crawford Court Saturday.

March 26, 2011|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com

IRVINE — It speaks to the madness of March that UC Irvine junior Dan McDonnell could play arguably the best match of his career, in his first significant action in six weeks, and still end the evening on a very real note of disappointment.

McDonnell, a middle blocker who started and starred in host UC Irvine's 25-20, 25-22, 25-18 nonconference sweep of No. 3-ranked Ohio State on Saturday night at Crawford Court, discovered in the locker room afterward that Arizona, the school at which he began his collegiate career and for which he obviously still holds affection, was defeated by Connecticut in the men's basketball West Regional final at Honda Center.

Ohio State, of course, knows of such disappointment, as the men's volleyball team, as well as about four-dozen scarlet-and-gray-clad rooters on hand Saturday, lamented the NCAA basketball tournament exit of the Buckeyes, the top overall seed, courtesy of a 62-60 loss in the East Regional semifinal against Kentucky on Friday.

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The Anteaters were rebounding from some disappointment of their own in the form of what McDonnell called an embarrassing three-game loss at UCLA on Thursday. UCI Coach John Speraw said UCLA's trouncing of his team marked the worst match in years for a UCI program that won NCAA titles in 2007 and 2009 and went to the Final Four in 2006.

The ultimate disappointment, however, was experienced by Coach Pete Hanson's Buckeyes (17-4), who came to California with a 17-match winning streak, only to drop two straight, including a four-set setback Friday at UC San Diego.

The 6-foot-6 McDonnell, who hails from Glendale, Ariz., had a team-high six block assists to help the No. 5-ranked hosts (13-11) post a 12.5 to six advantage in total blocks.

McDonnell also had seven kills with only one error in 14 attempts for a .429 hitting percentage.

"[McDonnell] came in and got a couple nice read stuffs," Speraw said. "He's a physical guy who is really good at hitting. He just needed to improve his read blocking. That's why he's on the court right now."

A lineup shakeup is not atypical for Speraw following a disappointing loss. Speraw also started freshman John Caroompas at libero Saturday in place of sophomore Will Montgomery, who started at UCLA.

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