March 7, 2008
Tenth-ranked UCLA registered a key conference road victory Friday night as it heads into next week's two-match showdown with BYU at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins outlasted No. 6 UC Irvine, 3-2 at the Bren Center.
In front of 2,888 fans, UCI's largest home crowd of the season, UCLA prevailed 25-30, 30-27, 30-28, 19-30, 15-10 in two hours and 23 minutes. UCLA's third straight victory raised its record to 13-9, 8-6 in MPSF play. The defending national champion Anteaters fell to 10-11, 6-8.
UCLA was led by Garrett Muagututia and Sean O'Malley with 20 kills each. Ryan Ratelle added 14 kills and Matt Wade totaled 63 set assists. Senior libero Tony Ker recorded a match-high 17 digs, raising his career total to 1,125. He also recorded his 55th career double-digit digs match and his 59th errorless passing match.
UCI's John Steller posted a career-high 25 kills, five digs and six block assists. Sophomore Cole Reinholm matched his career-high with 14 kills and also fired three service aces.
The Anteaters dominated the net, out-blocking UCLA 15-5. They also served four aces to the Bruins' three and hit for a beter percentage, .333 to .325. The Bruins had more kills 74-70 and more digs, 46-43.
UCI led 18-17 in game one before a kill by Reinholm was followed by a block by Aaron Harrell and Cory Yoder to give the Anteaters a three-point cushion. UCI captured the set 30-25 on a triple block by Harrell, Yoder and Steller
Game two was tied at 25-25 before UCLA used an Anteater service error and a kill by Muagututia to take a 27-25 lead. That was all they needed as the Bruins won 30-27.
UCLA was in control of game three with an 18-11 lead before UCI rallied with a 9-2 run to tie the score at 20-20. A kill by Muagututia and an Anteater attack error gave the Bruins a 25-23 advantage. The teams traded points to end the game, 30-28. O'Malley added seven kills for UCLA in the set.
UCI jumped out to a 7-2 lead in game four and cruised to a 30-19 victory to force game five. Steller pounded eight kills, while Anthony Spittle added 14 assists and Brent Asuka had four digs.
With the score tied 7-7 in game five, the Bruins took advantage of a UCI service error followed by two attack errors to go up 10-7 on their way to the 15-10 victory. UCI was its own worst enemy, hitting .000 (6-6-18) in the final frame.