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Colleges: Anteaters displaying resolve in new year

January 09, 2012|By Barry Faulkner
  • UC Irvine junior guard Mike Wilder (with ball) is the Anteaters' leading scorer this season.
UC Irvine junior guard Mike Wilder (with ball) is the Anteaters'… (DON LEACH, unknown )

If the first week is any indication, 2012 figures to be a banner year for UC Irvine athletics.

The Anteaters' men's and women's basketball teams each swept their two-game conference sets against Pacific and UC Davis.

The No. 2-ranked UCI men's volleyball team won four matches, the final three over then-No. 1-ranked BYU, No. 6 Long Beach State and No. 3-ranked UCLA, respectively, on its way to claiming the title of the UC Santa Barbara Invitational.

The impressive opening for Coach John Speraw's Anteaters earned them the No. 1 national ranking in the American Volleyball Coaches Assn. poll released Monday. UCI will get to test its top ranking against No. 2-ranked BYU in back-to-back Mountain Pacific Sports Federation matches Friday and Saturday at the Bren Events Center. First serve for both is 7 p.m.

Sophomore outside hitter Jeremy Dejno earned tournament MVP honors in Santa Barbara, while senior opposite Carson Clark was another all-tournament honoree.

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The Anteaters' strong start has come without the services of highly touted transfer Kevin Tillie, who has been sidelined by an ankle injury. Tillie, who played for the French junior national team and was an All-Canadian selection at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia, Canada last season, could make his UCI debut against BYU.

As harbinger's go, UCI last won the UCSB tournament in 2007, when it captured the first of the program's two NCAA titles.

This year's four-team NCAA men's volleyball championship is May 3 and 5 at USC's Galen Center.

With road wins over Pacific (Thursday) and UC Davis (Saturday), the UCI men's basketball team posted its first road weekend sweep since 2006, when it won at UCSB and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Coach Russell Turner's squad (6-10, 3-1 in conference), has earned all of its conference wins on the road after entering conference play winless in eight games away from the Bren Center.

Junior Mike Wilder was the catalyst last week, totaling 38 points in two games, netting a combined eight of 14 from three-point range. Wilder also had 10 rebounds to go with 18 points at Davis to post his fourth career double-double.

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