In a match that men’s volleyball coach John Speraw called “an epic battle,” UC Irvine went five full games against USC May 9 to emerge with its second NCAA National Championship in three years.
“We weren’t expected to win the title this year, like we were in 2007,” said Ryan Ammerman, the 6-foot-9-inch senior setter whose powerful play earned him the Most Outstanding Player award Saturday. “We were predicted to finish fifth or sixth in our own conference. But we believed in ourselves and worked hard on overcoming our weaknesses. It was incredibly rewarding to prove that we could be the best.”
The ‘Eaters and the Trojans traded wins with USC taking sets 1 and 3 and UCI winning sets 2 and 4 to force the tiebreaker. Unlike the first four sets which are played to 30 points, the fifth set is won by the first team to reach 15 points and hold a 2 point edge, and UCI won the fifth set 15-12.
“We talked all season long about how we were a team that could grind,” Speraw said, “and we really lived up to that. I think people could be talking about that match for a very, very long time. I know I will.”