Men's Volleyball: UCI stumbles at USC

Anteaters stick with lineup and fall in five, despite strong play from Mehring and Kevorken.

January 14, 2014|By Barry Faulkner

LOS ANGELES — Sometimes before you can find what you need, you need to see what you've got.

The UC Irvine men's volleyball team teetered along that fine line during a six-match, season-opening road trip. Tuesday night was another stumble, as No. 5-ranked USC outlasted the No. 7-ranked Anteaters, 20-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-19, 15-10, in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match at Galen Center.

UCI (3-3, 0-2 in conference), which has been known for utilizing its depth to alter mid-match momentum in recent years, virtually stuck with its starting lineup for the duration against the Trojans (3-0, 2-0).


UCI received almost flawless play from senior middle blockers Collin Mehring and Scott Kevorken, who had 12 and nine kills respectively, without a single error. Mehring hit .750 and added six block assists and one solo block, while Kevorken hit .500 with three block assists.

Tamir Hershko, a 6-foot-6 freshman opposite from Israel who started and played his first wire-to-wire match, led the Anteaters with 22 kills. But with 53 sets (almost double the next-most-frequent option), the USC blockers began to catch up with him, resulting in a .170 hitting percentage.

Senior outside hitter Connor Hughes had 11 kills and hit .296 for the visitors, but was blocked twice for USC points in the final set, during which he failed to record a kill.

Hershko, whose energetic reactions to his kills seemed to provide emotion for his team, had four kills in the fifth set, while being blocked only once. UCI hit .200 in the deciding game, while the Trojans, led by freshman Lucas Yoder, hit .500 in the fifth set.

Yoder, the cousin of former UCI All-American Cory Yoder, was a consistent force for the hosts, who had three other players post double-digit kills. Yoder finished with a .225 hitting percentage on 40 swings and he added eight digs.

"He just fits so seamlessly into this league," UCI Coach Dave Kniffin said of Yoder, one of three Yoders on the roster for the Trojans, for whom Lucas' uncle and Cory's father, Bob, both played and coached on NCAA title winners. "He seems so much more seasoned than a traditional freshman. That's growing up around the game, but also, he seems to have the right mentality for this conference. It's neat to see, but unfortunate to play against."

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