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No. 1 UCI upended by BYU

Men’s Volleyball

No. 2-ranked Cougars hit .494 as a team to sweep past Anteaters before 2,741 at Bren Center.

January 13, 2012|By Barry Faulkner
  • UCI's Kevin Tillie gets a kill past BYU's Joe Kauliakamoa, who wants no part of the play.
UCI's Kevin Tillie gets a kill past BYU's Joe… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

IRVINE — UC Irvine men's volleyball Coach John Speraw theorized that being elevated one spot this week to the No. 1 national ranking may have gone to his players' heads.

No. 2-ranked BYU, apparently miffed at losing its top spot, definitely took it to the host Anteaters' chin on Saturday with a 25-20, 25-21, 28-26 sweep that should give UCI what Speraw called some much-needed humility.

"I think it was good for us," Speraw said of the loss, in front of a charged-up crowd of 2,741 that was just starting to bring the noise in a dramatic third game. "Because I think we felt pretty good about ourselves and I don't think we should feel that good about ourselves."

UCI (4-1), which defeated BYU in four games on Dec. 6 at the UC Santa Barbara Invitational, was thoroughly outplayed by the Cougars in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opener for both at Bren Events Center.

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BYU (3-1, 1-0 in conference) hit .494 as a team, had 48 kills to UCI's 38 and posted an 8-5 advantage in team blocks.

The Cougars hit .720 as a team in the first game and .464 in Game 3, when they survived two set points to prevail. Sophomore All-American outside hitter Taylor Sander had 17 kills and hit .727 (one error in 22 total swings), while senior opposite Robb Stowell, who played for Speraw at the Balboa Bay Club program, added 14 kills and hit .417.  Sander added three aces.

Quentin Smith, a senior middle blocker, had eight kills in nine swings (.889) as BYU pounded kills and spotted tips, roll shots and off-speed offerings to confound the UCI defense.

UCI (4-1, 0-1) was led by senior All-American opposite Carson Clark (11 kills) and sophomore outside hitter Jeremy Denjo (11 kills and a .429 hitting percentage). Clark added two aces — on his first two serves — to pass Jayson Jablonsky and land atop the school's all-time aces list with 129.

Clark added a team-best eight digs, sophomore setter Daniel Stork had 36 assists, and junior Kevin Tillie, a heralded transfer from Canada, had four kills and hit .300 after being inserted late in the second game.

The two teams will play again Saturday at 7 p.m. at the same venue and Speraw said he is looking forward to getting a chance to fix his team's laundry list of correctable errors.

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