UC Irvine routs Penn State for fourth consecutive sweep, fifth win in a row
IRVINE, Calif. -- Fourth-ranked UC Irvine won its fifth consecutive match with a 3-0 victory (25-20, 25-20, 25-14) against No. 13 Penn State in a nonconference match at the Bren Center Saturday.
UCI recorded its fifth victory in a row and its fourth consecutive sweep to improve to 22-6 overall. Penn State had a five match winning streak snapped and moved to 19-7 on the year.
The Anteaters had a balanced offensive attack led by All-American Kevin Tillie's 12 kills and five digs. Opposite Zack La Cavera had 10 kills, five digs and three block assists, while outside hitter Kyle Russell totaled eight kills, two aces and three total blocks. Middle blocker Scott Kevorken had a team-best four total blocks to go with five kills. Setter Chris Austin had three kills, 33 set assists and three digs and libero Michael Brinkley added a match-high eight digs.
Penn State was led by Nick Goodell with nine kills and four digs. Aaron Russell had six kills, while Taylor Hammond recorded 20 set assist, three digs and a block assist. The Nittany Lions hit .130 (23-14-69) for the match.
UCI out-hit (.368-.130), out-blocked (8.5-7.5), out-dug (24-16) and out-served (7-1) Penn State.
In the first set, Penn State led 9-8 then UCI rolled off seven consecutive points (16-9) behind the serving of Kyle Russell. Russell had two kills and ace, while Tillie posted three kills in the run. Penn State scored four in a row to close within 18-14, but a Nittany Lion service error stopped the momentum. A kill by Russell gave the Anteaters the 25-20 win.
A block by Russell, La Cavera and Kevorken put UCI ahead 13-11 in the second set, but the Nittany Lions had kills by Aaron and Peter Russell and a block to take the 14-13 lead. The teams traded points until UCI used a pair of kills by Connor Hughes plus an ace from Tillie to open the 22-19 advantage. Following a Penn State kill, Tillie pounded two more kills and Collin Mehring had a solo block to end the set 25-20. The Anteaters had 4.5 blocks and hit .458 (13-2-24), while the Nittany Lions hit just .125 (10-7-24).
UCI started the third set 5-0 and never looked back, winning 25-14. Tillie and La Cavera each had four kills in the set. PSU hit .040 (6-5-25).