IRVINE, Calif. – Kevin Tillie and Collin Mehring led No. 1 UC Irvine to a 3-2 (21-25, 25-14, 21-25, 25-17, 15-11) victory against No. 11 Hawaii on Monday at the Bren Events Center.
UCI extended its winning streak to nine and improved to 13-3 overall and 10-3 in the MPSF. Hawaii fell to 5-9 and 4-7 in the MPSF. UCI is now 4-1 in five-set matches, while the Warriors, who tied a school record with their ninth five-set match of the season, are 4-5.
Tillie, a senior All-American outside hitter, led all players with a season-high 22 kills. He hit .419 (22-4-43) and also had 12 digs, two blocks and an ace. Mehring, a junior middle blocker, put away a career-high 13 kills and nine total blocks. Mehring, the MPSF leader in hitting percentage, had a .800 (13-1-15) mark Monday. Setter Daniel Stork recorded 48 set assists, seven digs and three block assists, while outside hitter Jeremy Dejno totaled nine kills and three total blocks. Junior Connor Hughes pitched in six kills, 10 digs and five total blocks. Opposite Zack La Cavera had five kills and three block assists.
Hawaii was led in kills by Brook Sedore (20), Sinisa Zarkovic (15) and JP Marks (13). Marks had a team-best 12 digs. Setter Joby Ramos recorded 52 set assists and 11 digs.
UCI outhit (.278-.222) and out-blocked (16-8) Hawaii, but the Warriors held a 53-44 dig advantage.
In the first set, UCI committed three consecutive hitting errors to help Hawaii take a 14-10 lead. Consecutive kills by La Cavera and Dejno brought UCI within 18-17, but the Warriors would answer with the next two points to extend the lead back to 20-17. A pair of kills by Tillie narrowed the deficit to 23-21 before Hawaii used a kill by Sedore and a block by Nick West to win the set 25-21.
UCI took control of the second set with a 7-2 run to open a 12-7 advantage, then finished the set with four consecutive kills, including two from Mehring to win 25-14. Tillie had five kills, while Mehring had four to lead the Anteaters.
The score was 16-16 in the third set before a Hawaii kill by Zarkovic was followed by an Anteater blocking error to give the Warriors the 18-16 cushion. A kill by Tillie made it 18-17 but a UH kill and block moved the Warriors ahead 20-17. The Warriors won the set 25-21, hitting .429 (18-3-35) to UCI’s .250 (13-4-36).
UCI jumped out to a 12-5 lead in the fourth set and would go on to a 25-17 victory to force a fifth game.
A pair of blocks by Mehring and Hughes highlighted a 5-0 run to start the final game. Back-to-back solo blocks by Dejno gave UCI the 10-3 lead. Hawaii would try to rally scoring three in a row to climb within 10-6, but an attack error stopped the run and UH would not get closer than three as UCI took the set 15-11.