CBU men's volleyball defeats top-ranked UC Irvine
The first conference match in the history of California Baptist University men's volleyball was one for the ages Wednesday night, as the No. 14-ranked Lancers knocked off top-ranked and defending NCAA Champs UC Irvine in a thrilling five-set comeback.
CBU fell behind 2-0 before storming back for the stunning 22-25, 19-25, 25-16, 25-22, 15-13 victory, opening the flood gates for a raucous celebration on the Van Dyne floor.
"This feels pretty good and it's going to feel pretty good for about another 15 more minutes before we start getting ready for our next match tomorrow," said first year CBU Head Coach Wes Schneider, whose team heads down to UC San Diego Thursday night. "Tonight was really about coming together as a team. We lost Kristopher Johnson early in the match and had to rally even without one of our key guys. We took whatever came our way and got it done."
The Anteaters looked like the more steady team through the first two games, committing just 13 total errors to 22 by the Lancers.
In the third game CBU finally found its rhythm, rattling off five straight points to break a 6-6 tie behind three kills from Levi Cabral. From there on out it was a match.
The Lancers continued rolling in the third, cruising to a 25-16 win in the set. The fourth was a battle.
CBU held a 20-18 lead late and then Guilherme Koepp and Aaron McCalmont smashed back to back kills, followed by an Anteater error to give the Lancers a 23-18 advantage. CBU grabbed set point at 24-19, but UCI wouldn't go away, scoring three straight to force a Lancer timeout. Out of the break Kevin Kustura set the home team's big gun, setting Cabral up for a right-handed smash off the block to win the set.
Carrying all of the momentum into the final game, CBU jumped out to a 5-1 lead. Just like in the game before, UCI clawed its way back, evening the set at 13-13.
This night belonged to the Lancers, however, as McCalmont smashed a kill off the block and into the stands to set up match point at 14-13. After a rally that saw players on both sides of the net hit the deck, Koepp snuck a ball off the UCI block and out of bounds for the win.
After that the celebration was on as the student section in the nearly full Van Dyne Gym emptied onto the court.
"We kept our composure and got our game back together," said Schneider. "We were disconnected early, but once we figured it out we were able to do what we do. We're blessed to have a really strong core of offensive weapons."
Koepp led the way on the night for CBU, ripping 21 kills, while McCalmont added 18 and Cabral had 17. McCalmont hit .429 in the contest and Jon Waber hit a scorching .778 on his seven kills (7-0-9). Kustura had 50 assists and Michael Cate led the way with 12 digs.
Jeremy Dejno led UCI with 21 kills and Kevin Tillie had 15.
The Lancers move to 3-1 overall on the season and 1-0 in the MPSF. UCI falls to 4-2, 1-2.
CBU is back in action tomorrow at 7 p.m. in San Diego and then faces a pair of matches this weekend at Concordia.