RIVERSIDE, Calif. --- With many of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation teams ranked in the NCAA, California Baptist University rarely gets a break from the best the division has to offer. Like they have all season, the Lancers fought to hang with their ranked opponent, but ultimately dropped three sets to No. 8-ranked UC Irvine (25-22, 25-18, 25-23).
CBU falls to 4-15 on the season, 2-14 in conference with the defeat. On the other side of the net, UCI improves to 14-8, 11-7 in the MPSF.
Johannes Brink was the only Lancer to finish the night with double-digit kills, leading the attack with 13 kills—UCI also only had one player with kills in double-figures. CBU's Kevin Kustura tallied a match-high 34 assists and six digs to try to keep his team in the match.
After both teams opened the match with errors, UCI went on a four-point run to hold a 9-5 advantage over the Lancers. CBU battled to hang with the Anteaters, but found itself trailing by at least three points.
Down 21-17, Amir Lugo-Rodriguez towered over the net to slam down a kill, followed by a block from Rocky DeLyon and Kristopher Johnson, to put the Lancers within two at 21-19. The Anteaters called a timeout and came out looking to squash the home team’s momentum, scoring back-to-back points to stay in front. UCI held on for a 25-22 set victory.
UCI held the Lancers to just eight kills in set two, despite CBU opening the frame with a 3-1 lead. The Anteaters rallied back to even the score at 6-6, but a kill from Brink kept the Lancers in front.
The Anteaters kept pushing and took over the lead at 8-7. They kept the momentum swinging late in the set, putting together a four-point run to hold a 22-17 upper hand. UCI closed out the last three points, claiming the set 25-18.
CBU turned things around in the third, jumping out in front 7-3 to take control of the set.
UCI rallied back to tie the set at 14-14 and the pair of teams exchanged sideout points to keep the set close. Lugo-Rodriguez added two points off a kill and a block, assisted by DeLyon, to put the Lancers in front by two at 18-16.
The lead didn’t last, however, as the Anteaters scored three-straight points to put pressure on the Lancers at 23-20. CBU got the next point, but couldn’t build momentum as it dropped the final set 25-23, surrendering the match.
Turning right around, CBU heads to UC San Diego tomorrow night at 7 p.m. for another MPSF match before hosting non-conference opponent Erksine on Saturday at 4 p.m.