Dramatic Wins Lift UCI to MPSF's Top-Four

Tamir Hershko, UCI (Photo courtesy of UCI)
Feb. 27, 2017

MPSF Volleyball Release 8

UC IRVINE (8-4 MPSF/11-5 Overall) had a wild and successful week at home with a pair of five-set wins over UCLA and UCSB. The Anteaters won all six of their sets by two points, which included extra points in set five in both matches. They fought off one match point (14-15) in a 17-15 set five against the Bruins, before shaking off five total match points against UCSB (three in set four and two in the fifth at 12-14) and ultimately winning 18-16. Tamir Hershko compiled 42 kills (hitting .429), including a season-high 23 vs. UCLA. Four of those kills followed the 14-12 deficit in the fifth vs. UCSB. UC Irvine is back in the MPSF’s top-four with six to play in conference, heading to CSUN (Mar. 3) and Long Beach State (Mar. 4) this week.

HAWAII (7-2 MPSF/16-2 Overall) picked up a pair of straight-set home wins over Pepperdine (Feb. 24 & 26), extending its win streak to MPSF season-highs of 11 straight matches and 20 sets. Hawaii has also won 15 straight home matches dating back to last year. Stijn Van Tilburg had 17 kills (.483) in the second win, following a 15-kill, .737 hitting performance in the first win. The third-place Warriors begin the second half of their MPSF schedule this week as USC visits Thursday (Mar. 2). The same two teams also meet Friday (Mar. 3) as a non-conference match.

LONG BEACH STATE (11-1 MPSF/15-2 Overall) made it 11 straight conference wins with a 3-1 result over Cal Baptist (Feb. 22) and 3-0 over USC (Feb. 24) at the Walter Pyramid this past week. In doing so, the 49ers became the first team to officially punch a postseason ticket into the eight-team MPSF Tournament. Amir Lugo-Rodriguez combined for errorless .562 hitting clip (9-0-16) through the week, while totaling 14 blocks (2.00 B/S). With six to play in conference, Long Beach State holds a 1.5-match lead in the win column on top of the standings as UC San Diego (Mar. 3) and UC Irvine (Mar. 4) visit this week.

BYU (8-1 MPSF/14-2 Overall) extended its win streak to six matches with 3-0 and 3-1 road outcomes at Stanford (Feb. 23-24). Jake Langlois hit .300 (28-7-70) with four kills per set in the series. Langlois nearly collected a triple-double with a match-high 14 kills, season-high 12 digs, and career-high tying eight blocks in the second win. Beginning its second half of conference matches just 1.5 back in the win column, BYU hosts Cal Baptist Friday (Mar. 3).

USC (5-8 MPSF/6-10 Overall) won a five-set MPSF road match at CSUN (Feb. 22), as Lucas Yoder had 24 kills with a .395 clip. Andy Benesh recorded 10 blocks. Percentage points from the MPSF’s top-eight, the Trojans travel to Hawaii for two this week (Mar. 2-3), where only Thursday’s first match will count in the conference standings.

UC SANTA BARBARA (4-9 MPSF/7-9 Overall) Jacob Delson recorded MPSF season-highs of 34 kills (.375) and 37 points at UC Irvine (Feb. 25). Keenan Sanders hit .563 for the week (23-5-32), including a career-high 14 kills with a .632 clip at UCI. He hit .462 (9-3-13) with four blocks in a straight-set win at UC San Diego (Feb. 24), helping the team snap a seven-match slide. The Gauchos travel east this week to face Penn State (Mar. 3) and Lees-McRae (Mar. 4) in University Park, PA.

UCLA (8-6 MPSF/11-7 Overall) was edged 3-2 at UC Irvine (Feb. 24), before bouncing back in four sets at UC San Diego (Feb. 25). Christian Hessenauer was a sparkplug for the Bruins last week, providing 15 kills (.333) and eight digs in the win and 16 kills (.355) and two aces in the loss. The Bruins are off until Mar. 8 when Lewis visits.

CSUN (4-6 MPSF/11-6 Overall) split a pair of home matches, falling in five to USC (Feb. 22) and beating Cal Baptist in three (Feb. 24). Josiah Byers hit .556 for the week (11-1-18) with 11 blocks (three solo) and three aces. Arvis Greene tallied 25 kills (.383) and Dimitar Kalchev served a conference season-high tying six aces in the loss. Tied for seventh with eight to play in the MPSF, the Matadors host UC San Diego Wednesday (Mar. 1) and UC Irvine Friday (Mar. 3).

STANFORD (6-5 MPSF/9-7 Overall) dropped two conference home matches to BYU (Feb. 23-24) in three and four sets. The second match featured a Paul Bischoff double-double on 35 assists and 10 digs, to go along with a career-high six blocks. Gabriel Vega had 14 kills and seven digs. The Cardinal travels to University Park, PA this week to face Lees-McRae (Mar. 3) and Penn State (Mar. 4).

PEPPERDINE (4-6 MPSF/6-7 Overall) dropped a pair of straight-set matches at Hawaii this past weekend (Feb. 24-26). Mitchell Penning hit .481 in the series (15-2-27), including an 11-kill, .714 first night effort. The Waves are off this week, next in action at home against BYU for two (Mar. 10-11).

UC SAN DIEGO (2-9 MPSF/5-11 Overall) dropped 3-0 and 3-1 MPSF home matches to UCSB (Feb. 24) and UCLA (Feb. 25) respectively. UCSD managed to snap a 30-set losing streak against the Bruins. Tanner Syftestad had 10 kills, five digs, and three aces vs. the Gauchos. The Tritons visit CSUN Wednesday (Mar. 1) and Long Beach State Friday (Mar. 3).

CAL BAPTIST (1-11 MPSF/3-13 Overall) fell in four at Long Beach State (Feb. 23) and in three at CSUN (Feb. 24). The first set win snapped the 49ers’ 24-set win streak in MPSF play. The Lancers travel to BYU for one conference match Friday (Mar. 3).