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Speraw feels the love

Men's Volleyball

UCI men's volleyball coach, who may or may not return, is celebrated along with NCAA champion's players.

May 08, 2012|By Barry Faulkner
  • John Speraw, the head coach for the UC Irvine men's volleyball team, shows off the national championship trophy during a NCAA title celebration for the team on Tuesday.
John Speraw, the head coach for the UC Irvine men's… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

IRVINE — UC Irvine men's volleyball coach John Speraw spoke of the future during a celebration of the 2012 NCAA champion Anteaters in front of about 300 on campus on Tuesday.

But whether that future will be at UCI, UCLA, or exclusively with the U.S. men's national team will not be known for at least a few weeks, said Speraw, whose 10-year tenure at the school has produced a legacy of three national titles in the last six seasons.

UCI Chancellor Michael Drake addressed the crowd and saluted both the team and Speraw, whom he said he admires as much as any leader on campus.

"[Speraw] is really spot on with his focus," Drake said. "He always seems to be focused on the task at hand. A team or a program might win one [title] by having the ball bounce its way a couple of times and that can be luck. And it maybe could actually come around again and get another one by being really good. But to win three, you have to be absolutely outstanding and I think that's really the case.

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"I'm just proud of you, John, and what you've brought to the campus and the community and how you have elevated men's volleyball to being a sport that shows character and leadership, as well as wonderful athletic prowess ... So, we're here to celebrate the team, but also to celebrate you [Speraw]."

Drake also praised the character of the players for overcoming adversity that included a mid-season slump and two 2-0 deficits in games during the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament semifinal and final. UCI rallied to win both matches, against USC and Stanford, in five games.

The Anteaters (26-5) defeated USC, 25-22, 34-32, 26-24, in front of 9,612 in the NCAA final Saturday at USC's Galen Center

Drake noted that postseason wins over Penn State, UCLA, Stanford and USC, all major conference football schools with athletic budgets in the hundreds of millions, accentuated the excellence UCI has attained in the sport.

"The combined budgets of those athletic programs is somewhere north of Guam," Drake said. "So, the events of last weekend showed it's the quality on the court that counts, not how much money you throw at the program."

Speraw acknowledged the contributions of all his players and coaches, from the all-conference honorees to the seldom-used role players.

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