UC Irvine Defends NCAA Men's Title, Sweeps BYU

By Bill Kauffman | May 04, 2013, 10:07 p.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman, Senior Manager of Communications, Phone: 719-228-6800, Email: bill.kauffman@usav.org
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 4, 2013) – UC Irvine successfully defended its NCAA National Collegiate Men’s Volleyball Championship title by defeating top-seed Brigham Young University 25-23, 25-22, 26-24 on Saturday night at Pauley Pavilion on the campus of UCLA.

UC Irvine (25-7), the second seed and at-large selection into the four-team tournament, became the first team to win back-to-back titles since UCLA performed the feat in 1995 and 1996. UC Irvine became the first school in 30 years to win consecutive championships without losing a set (defeated University of Southern California 3-0 in 2012).

The Anteaters now have four NCAA men’s volleyball titles to tie for the third most in NCAA history with all four titles have come since 2007. UC Irvine head coach David Kniffin became just the second coach to win the title in his first year leading a program.

UC Irvine produced a commanding 17-6 block advantage in the three-set win and held a .383 hitting efficiency as a team with 48 kills on 94 attacks and just 12 errors. The Anteaters’ serve netted a 3-2 margin in aces. BYU held a 26-21 edge in digs. The UC Irvine defense limited the powerful BYU attack to just a .274 hitting efficiency.

Scott Kevorken paced UC Irvine with 14.5 points, including seven kills on 10 attacks, a match-high 11 block assists, one block solo and one ace. Connor Hughes, the tournament’s most outstanding player, contributed 11 kills on 22 attacks and four block assists. Kevin Tillie charted 11 kills and five block assists, while Zack la Cavera pocketed 11 kills and three block assists. Chris Austin set the Anteaters with 43 assists to go with a block solo and five block assists. Colin Mehring turned in seven kills on 10 attacks and two block assists. Michael Brinkley was credited with a team-high eight digs.

Taylor Sander led BYU with 20 kills on 39 attacks, while adding three block assists. Josue Rivera recorded eight kills, one ace and two block assists in the loss. Ben Patch tallied seven kills and an ace for the Cougars. Ryan Boyce set BYU with 34 assists, while Jaylen Reyes had a match-high nine digs in the loss.

BYU (22-4) was also attempting to win its fourth NCAA men’s volleyball championship. The Cougars had won both regular season meetings over UC Irvine in 2013 and were 41-12 all-time in the series history heading into the title match.

In the opening set, UC Irvine built an 18-15 lead following a Hughes kill. However, BYU rallied with four unanswered points with two Sander kills around a winner from Patch followed by a UC Irvine error to yield a 19-18 lead to the Cougars. BYU regained the lead at 23-22, but the UC Irvine answered with the final three points of the set capped by a Kyle Russell kill for the winner at 25-23.

BYU erupted to an 11-4 advantage in the second set, only to see UC Irvine go on a 10-2 run highlighted by three Tillie kills to reverse the lead to the Anteaters at 14-13. After BYU tied the set at 20-all, UC Irvine rolled out five of the final seven points for a 25-22 victory.

In the third set, BYU came back from a 16-14 deficit to knot the score at 16-all. The Cougars used a 5-2 scoring spurt to gain three set points at 24-21 and looking to extend the match. UC Irvine answered by saving all three set points and continued the run with the final five points of the set for the 26-24 set victory to conclude the match. The Anteaters scored the final three points on blocks as Kevorken was involved in all three points.