SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – No. 2 UC Irvine won its fourth consecutive match with a 3-0 (25-23, 27-25, 28-26) sweep of No. 12 UC Santa Barbara at Robertson Gym on Wednesday.
The four consecutive wins matches the longest winning streak of the season for the Anteaters who improve to 8-3 overall and 5-3 in the MPSF, while the Gauchos go to 3-7 overall and 1-5 in the MPSF.
All-American outside hitter Kevin Tillie led UCI with 18 kills while hitting .485 (18-3-33) and collecting eight digs. Zack la Cavera added 13 kills and seven digs, while outside hitter Connor Hughes recorded 10 kills. Middle blocker Collin Mehring had a team-best three block assists and hit .750 on seven kills in eight attempts with one error. Setter Daniel Stork totaled 40 set assists and seven digs and libero Michael Brinkley led all players with 12 digs.
Matt Marsh led the Gauchos with 14 kills followed by Austin Kingi with 12 kills.
UCI used a kill by La Cavera and Tillie to open a 9-5 lead in the first set. A pair of kills by Tillie followed by one from Mehring forced UCSB to call timeout. The Anteaters continued to lead 19-15 then watched the Gauchos put down three consecutive kills to close to 20-18 and would eventually catch UCI at 20-all. A bad set by Santa Barbara and a block by La Cavera and Mehring put UCI ahead 24-22. A kill by Tillie ended the set 25-23.
UCSB led 19-15 in the second set before UCI rallied and tied the score at 22 on a block by Hughes and Scott Kevorken. UCI won the set 27-25 on a UCSB service and attack error.
In a closely contested third set that saw 20 ties and nine lead changes, ended with kills by La Cavera and Tillie for a final 28-26 score.