Irvine upsets BYU, Lewis with a comeback win

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UCI's Tamir Hershko scores a season-high 19 kills in an upset win over BYU/UCI athletics

It was a busy Friday night around the men’s college scene that included UC Irvine’s upset win on the road against No. 3 BYU and the nation’s top two teams adding another notch to their respective victory columns, while Lewis University overcame a two-set deficit to win and No. 12 George Mason suffered a loss to Fort Wayne. All of this ahead of tonight’s showdown in Columbus, Ohio between No. 1 Ohio State and No. 4 Long Beach State.

We start in the MPSF where Irvine, ranked No. 7 in the country, outlasted BYU 25-23, 28-26, 32-34, 21-25, 15-12 in a contest that took two hours and 42 minutes to complete at Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah.

Irvine moved to 7-2 and 4-2 in MPSF action, while BYU dropped to 6-2 and 2-1 and had an eight-match home winning streak halted. This was the final MPSF match between the two teams with Irvine moving to the new Big West men’s volleyball conference.

Irvine recorded a season-high 14 blocks in the match and held a 34-32 digs advantage over BYU. MPSF leader Dillon Hoffman had a match-high 11 digs for Irvine. Senior Tamir Hershko had a match and season-high 19 kills to go with four blocks and three aces. Thomas Hodges added 13 kills and three block assists, while freshman Scott Stadick tied his career-best with nine kills and eight block assists. Fellow freshman Matthew Younggren had a career-high seven kills and five total blocks. Senior Michael Saeta had 44 assists, five kills, six digs and three aces. Sophomore Karl Apfelbach had a career-best nine digs and five block assists.

Jake Langlois led BYU with 17 kills. Brenden Sander had 15 kills, while Ben Patch had 14 kills.

The two teams play tonight again in Provo at 7 p.m., MST, but the match is considered a non-conference one under the new league format.

The rest of the MPSF schedule on Friday saw winning teams lose only one set. No. 2 UCLA ran its mark to 8-1 overall and stayed atop the loop standings at 6-0 with a 3-0 victory over host UC Santa Barbara (6-3, 3-3) at the Thunderdome.

UCSB's Jacob Delson winds up against UCLA/Veronica Arvizo
UCSB’s Jacob Delson winds up against UCLA/Veronica Arvizo

The win was UCLA’s sixth in a row. Mitch Stahl led the Bruins with five aces. Daenan Gyimah had a team-high 12 kills and hit .647. Jake Arnitz and JT Hatch had 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Hagen Smith had four kills, 18 assists, seven digs and one block. Jackson Bantle had eight digs, while Micah Ma’a had 21 assists and six digs. UCLA hit .420 in the match.

Dimitar Kalchev of Cal State Northridge had xxx kills against Hope International/Paul Trafecanty
Dimitar Kalchev of No. 15 Cal State Northridge had 15 kills against Hope International/Paul Trafecanty

Stanford kept pace with UCLA in the MPSF loss column with a 3-0 win over Cal Baptist (2-7, 1-5), while Northridge moved to 8-3 overall with a 3-0 win over Hope International.

Jordan Ewert leads Stanford in a 3-0 win over Cal Baptist/Stanford Athletics
Jordan Ewert leads Stanford in a 3-0 win over Cal Baptist/Stanford Athletics

Jordan Ewert led Stanford (6-2, 3-0) with 12 kills and three aces. Redshirt junior Kevin Rakestraw had nine kills and hit .667, while producing six of Stanford’s 14 blocks. Evan Enriques, playing against younger brother and Cal Bapist libero Emmett Enriques, had 10 digs. Jackson Burge and Enrique Garcia each had seven kills.

Hawai’i (7-2 overall) swept NAIA No. 1 Grand View and Long Beach State went to 7-1 overall with a non-conference 3-1 win over St. Francis in a match played at Ohio State.

The Rainbow Warriors extended their home winning streak at Stan Sheriff Center to 10 matches and won its 18th match in a row against non-MPSF teams.

Sophomore Stijn van Tilburg led Hawaii with 10 kills in two sets of action. Freshman Rado Parapunov had nine kills in nine attempts playing only the third set, while freshman Austin Matautia had five kills and five digs. Hawaii hit .368. Grand View, which finished second in NAIA last year, dropped to 3-1. The two teams play again Sunday in Honolulu.

Long Beach State hit the road to Columbus, Ohio, site of the 2017 NCAA men’s Division I-II finals, and came away with a 3-1 win over EIVA entrant Saint Francis. TJ DeFalco led the 49ers with 21 kills and hit .302. Kyle Ensing added 15 kills.

Josh Tuaniga had 50 assists and 12 digs, notching his first double-double of the season. Andrew Sato, a senior libero, had a career-high 23 digs to go with 21 receptions without an error. Sato has 804 career digs, ranking him third all-time in Beach men’s volleyball annals.

Michael Fisher’s 22 kills led St. Francis. Stephen Braswell had 11 kills, while Daniel Ford had 44 assists. Gab Woffindin posted 13 digs and Jeff Hogan had 10 digs for the Red Flash.

Long Beach faces national No. 1 Ohio State tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern in Columbus.

Over in the MIVA, No. 6 Lewis was taken to the brink by host Grand Canyon University. The Flyers rallied from a two-set deficit and match point in the fourth set to earn the 23-25, 18-25, 25-19, 28-26, 15-13 win. Lewis upped its winning streak to six matches and notched its fourth five-set win in its last five matches. Lewis was 1-8 in five-set matches last year.

Mitch Perinar tied a career high with 27 kills and hit .438. He accounted for 43.5 percent of the Flyers’ kills. He also had a season-high eight digs. Redshirt Freshman Ryan Coenen had 15 kills, while sophomore setter Matt Yoshimoto had 52 assists. Middle Jacob Schmiegelt had nine total blocks.

The two teams play again Sunday in Arizona at 1 p.m. MST.

No. 1 Ohio State played 13 players in its 3-0 win over Barton College. It was the Buckeyes’ 31st win a row dating back to last year. A win against Long Beach State tonight would tie the program record for most wins in a row.

Miles Johnson notched is 123rd career service ace, tying the all-time program record, while Nicolas Szerszen upped his career ace total to 121. Sanil Thomas handled setting duties and had 37 assists. He was filling in for All-American Christy Blough, who had taken a red-eye flight back from California Friday morning following a West Coast medical school interview for the biomedical engineering major. Ohio State hit .413 as a team in the win.

In other MIVA action, Ball State was a 3-1 winner over New Jersey Institute of Technology. Freshman Matt Szews led Ball State with 11 kills and hit .400. Brendan Surane had eight kills and moved into 13th place in school history (rally-scoring era) with 595 career kills. Connor Gross had 28 assists, while freshman Courtland Scharenborghad had 17 assists. Adam Wessell added 12 digs.

“The three sets we played well in, we did really well with ball control,” said Ball State coach Joel Walton. “It was a lot of pressure on their defense to get the right blockers into place. In set three, we stopped passing. It’s a different feel when you’re playing behind instead of at front. We worked hard and got to the point where we had a chance in the third set.”

Other MIVA-related action saw Fort Wayne sweep No. 12 George Mason. Pelegrin Vargas had nine kills, seven digs and four blocks, while Richie Diedrich had seven blocks and hit .833. It was Fort Wayne’s first win over a Top 15 team in nearly two years.

McKendree moved to 4-6 overall with a non-conference 3-0 win over Charleston. Wyatt Patterson led McKendree with nine kills and hit .800. Maalik Walker and Jared Wilcox each had nine kills.

In the EIVA, No. 14 Penn State was a 3-0 winner over Mount Olive at Rec Hall.

“I thought tonight’s match was one where we show our dominance in stretches,” said Penn State coach Mark Pavlik. “I think then we kind of put the lunch pail down and got away from just getting after it and then we’d pick it back up. This was a team that gave us eight points in Game 1, gave us eight points in Game 2 and in gave us 6 points and forced us to go to 19.”

Chris Nugent led Penn State with 14 kills, hit .417 and had two digs. Lee Smith tied his season and career high with 12 kills and hit .450, while adding a season-high five digs. Kevin Gear added six kills, while Calvin Mende had five kills. Luke Braswell had 41 assists and Matthew McLaren had two aces.

In Conference Carolinas play, Lincoln Memorial was a 3-2 winner over Lees-McRae. Lincoln moved to 3-5 overall, while Lees-McRae dropped to 2-4.

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