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Loyola Chicago Athletics | February 15, 2014

UC Irvine knocks off Pepperdine

UC Irvine's Zack La Cavera

IRVINE, Calif. -- Ninth-ranked UC Irvine upset No. 3 Pepperdine, 3-0 (27-25, 25-23, 25-19) on Friday at the Bren Center.

UCI won its second consecutive match and improved to 9-7 overall and 6-6 in the MPSF. Pepperdine was swept for the first time this year and fell to 6-3 overall and in the MPSF.

Opposite Zack La Cavera topped UCI with 17 kills and hit .448 (17-4-29). Outside hitter Jeremy Dejno added 13 kills, while middle blockers Scott Kevorken had eight kills and Collin Mehring was perfect offensively recording six kills on six attempts. Outside hitter Connor Hughes totaled five kills and five digs. Setter Roberto Frazzoni tallied 41 set assists and matched libero Michael Brinkley with a match-high eight digs.

Pepperdine was led by Parker Kalmbach with 11 kills. Matt Tarantino had eight kills and Josh Taylor and Kyle Gerrans each recorded seven kills.

UCI hit .402 (51-14-92) to Pepperdine's .312. The Anteaters outdug the Waves, but Pepperdine outblocked UCI 9-4.

UCI held a healthy 17-12 lead in the first set before Pepperdine rallied to tie the score at 24 on a Kalmbach kill. After each team scored a point, UCI had kills by Dejno and Mehring for the 26-24 Anteater victory.

In a closely contested second set, the teams were tied at 19 before a Pepperdine service error was coupled with a La Cavera kill to put UCI in front 21-19. That was all UCI needed as another Wave service error gave the Anteaters a 25-23 win.

UCI controlled the third set, jumping out to a 17-8 lead behind five consecutive points when La Cavera was serving. UCI would win 25-19 and end the match 3-0.

No. 1 Loyola Chicago 3, Grand Canyon 0

PHOENIX -- Senior Joe Smalzer ripped a match-high 20 kills as top-ranked Loyola Chicago earned a 3-0 win against Grand Canyon tonight in the first of two matches in Phoenix. Loyola improves to 10-1 (3-0 MIVA) while the Antelopes drop to 6-6 (0-3).

Grand Canyon scored three of the first four points but Loyola pulled ahead 6-5 after two Grand Canyon errors. Kills from Smalzer, Thomas Jaeschke and Owen McAndrews pushed the lead to three (10-7) before the Antelopes stormed back to even things at 11-all. The visitors edged out to an 18-14 lead on another McAndrews kill but Loyola had an answer for each Grand Canyon rally, with Jaeschke closing out a 25-20 victory in the opening set. Loyola's offense was solid, as the Ramblers hit .400 (15-1-35) with just one error in the frame.

Kills from Jaeschke and Nick Olson helped the Ramblers to a 4-1 lead in the second set but the home team would rally. An 8-2 run gave GCU a 9-6 lead and a Keith Smith ace later gave the hosts a 13-8 advantage at the midway point. A Smalzer ace pulled the Ramblers within two (15-13) but the Lopes still led 23-18 after a Loyola error. Two kills from Smalzer made it 23-20 before a Ben Ponnet kill got the hosts to set point. Loyola made one last charge, with two Smalzer kills making it a 24-22 game and prompting a Grand Canyon timeout. Olson and Peter Hutz teamed up for a block and Smalzer ripped another kill to send the set to extra points and another Olson/Hutz block gave LU set point at 25-24. The teams traded points to 27-26 before Smalzer closed it out with yet another kill, giving the Ramblers a 28-26 win and a 2-0 lead in the match.

Kills from Smalzer and Jaeschke helped Loyola inch out to a 10-7 lead in the third set and the Ramblers extended the margin to four (18-14) after a block from Olson and Cody Caldwell. Back-to-back Smalzer kills made it a 22-15 lead, as the finish line came into sight, and despite a mini-run from Grand Canyon that saw the home team get as close as three, Caldwell found the floor on match point to give the Ramblers a 25-22 win that clinched the match.

Smalzer was outstanding, slamming his match-high 20 kills while hitting at a .310 clip. Jaeschke also reached double figures, finishing with 10 kills, while Peter Jasaitis had 10 digs to lead Loyola's defensive effort.

No. 5 Southern California 3, UC San Diego 0

LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Tanner Jansen, Lucas Yoder and Tommy Leonard each were in double figures in kills to lead the No. 5-ranked Southern California to a 25-13, 25-21, 25-15 sweep at UC San Diego in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match Friday.

USC improved to 7-5 overall and 6-5 in the MPSF, while UCSD remained winless on the year (0-12) and in the MPSF (0-11).

Jansen had 13 kills while hitting .600, Yoder added 12 kills while hitting .417 and Leonard had 10 kills (hitting .588), six blocks and two aces. Andy Benesh added six blocks, Maddison McKibbin had 11 digs and Michael Mullahey started at setter for the second consecutive night in place of Micah Christenson (injured back) and had seven digs and two aces with his 35 assists.

For the Tritons, Mike Brunsting had 12 kills and 6 digs.

USC hit .487 to UCSD's .209 and the Trojans had 13.5 blocks to the Tritons' 1.0.

In the first set, USC scored six out of seven points to build an early 9-4 lead and continued to pull away while hitting .435. After trailing the second set at 17-14, USC scored five consecutive points only to see UCSD tie it up again at 19 before the Trojans pulled ahead for good with a 3-0 run. USC got out to a 13-5 margin in the third set after scoring six consecutive points and Troy was never threatened while hitting .692.

No. 7 UC Santa Barbara 3, No. 6 Long Beach State 1

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Seventh-ranked UC Santa Barbara Gauchos won their third consecutive match, defeating No. 6 Long Beach State in four tightly contested sets (30-28, 23-25, 25-21, 25-20). With the win, and Pepperdine's concurrent loss at UC Irvine, the Gauchos now move into third place in the MPSF conference standings with a record 7-3 (8-3 overall).

Despite a slow start to the first set, the Gauchos displayed the intensity that has become commonplace in the past few games to pull out the win. Initially down 13-6, UCSB scratched back to tie the set at 19 behind the eight kills of senior outside hitter Matt Hanley. Additionally, Austin Kingi and Evan Licht tacked on four additional kills each. Licht hit for a .667 clip, recorded a block, and finished off the set with the winning service ace.           

Long Beach rebounded strongly, winning the second set by capitalizing on a dominant net presence and strong swings from Taylor Crabb. Crabb finished the night with 16 kills, two service aces and assisted in two blocks.

The Gauchos developed a rhythm in their third set win that carried over into the fourth set. Kingi, Hanley and Licht powered through the Long Beach net presence that was able to tally 15 team blocks. Kingi's seven kills for the fourth set gave him a total for 20 on the night, while Licht and Hanley finished with 17 kills each. Neither Kingi nor Licht hit less than four kills per set. Defensively, senior libero Austin Kingi bested his previous performance with a season high for digs (14). Setter Jonah Seif also had an impressive performance with 52 assists and was one dig away from a double-double with nine.