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'Eaters' Dejno big cheese vs. UCLA

Men's Volleyball

Freshman outside hitter's key Game 2 production helps UCI rally to top Bruins at home and clinch MSPF tourney bid.

March 30, 2011|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com

IRVINE — With literally dozens of lineup configurations and in-match adjustments, UC Irvine men's volleyball coach John Speraw has constantly tinkered, this season, to build a better mousetrap.

But with the Anteaters reeling late in the second set at home Wednesday against Mountain Pacific Sports Federation rival UCLA, which had embarrassed UCI Thursday at Pauley Pavilion, it was a freshman from Wisconsin who brought some much-needed cheese.

Just as baseball jargon refers to a rising fastball as high cheddar, 6-foot-4 outside hitter Jeremy Dejno's heaters from the service line and at the net, helped the hosts overcome a 22-19 Game 2 deficit and go on to record a crucial 19-25, 26-24, 25-20, 25-15 triumph that clinched a berth in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.

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Dejno, who entered the contest midway through the first game, had four kills and three ace serves in a match-turning Game 2.

Dejno pounded consecutive kills to pull No. 6-ranked UCI (14-11, 10-8 in conference) within 22-20. His vapor-trail kill later pulled UCI even, 23-23, and with the match tied, 24-24, he closed it out with back-to-back jump-serve aces to turn the tide.

"Considering the way UCLA had played so well against us for four and a half games, you begin to wonder if this matchup just isn't really meant for us, you know?" Speraw said. "We just had some great contributions off the bench, with the obvious one being Jeremy Dejno, who just came in and lit it up, service-wise. That really was key for our comeback … his contribution was huge."

Dejno, who had 13 career aces coming in, opened Game 3 with his fourth of five aces in the match. He accounted for half of the 'Eaters' 10 aces, which were seven more than the No. 5-ranked Bruins (15-10, 8-9) produced.

Dejno also had eight kills, hitting .333, with one block assist.

Junior All-American opposite Carson Clark had a match-high 22 kills and hit .450 to help the Anteaters hit .356 as a team. Clark had two aces and two block assists.

Outside hitter Cory Yoder, one of four UCI players honored on senior night, had nine kills and hit .400.

Senior setter Anthony Spittle had 40 assists and six digs for UCI.

Speraw also credited contributions off the bench from senior middle blocker Kevin Wynne (one kill, one block assist and four digs), and sophomore libero Will Thomas (a team-best seven digs) with helping provide a shift for the winners.

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