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Record number of teams to play in Anteaters’ international tournament

September 8, 2011

UC Irvine will have the largest tournament field in the three-year history of its preseason international tournament.

The Anteaters announced Tuesday that eight teams — three more than last season — will participate at the 2011 Irvine International Volleyball Tournament later this month.

The Irvine International Volleyball Tournament is the only preseason tournament that features a college men’s volleyball team playing professional teams from around the world. Six of the eight teams participating in the preseason tournament are international squads.

UC Irvine coach John Speraw said in June that the Anteaters were exploring the possibility of expanding the tournament field, if it was financially possible for the school. The coach also said the tournament is developing a strong reputation overseas and UC Irvine had more international teams express interest in playing in the tournament.

The Irvine International Volleyball Tournament will be a six-day tournament with pool-play beginning Sept. 26

The eight teams will compete in two four-team pools to open the tournament.

SADA Cruzeiro from Brazil, Korean Air Jumbos, Shanghai Tang Dynasty from China and the Quiksilver volleyball club from California will compete in Pool A. UC Irvine will play in Pool B against Drean Bolivar from Argentina, Toray Arrows from Japan and Beijing BAIC Motor from China.

This is the first time that four of the teams will participate in the tournament. Korean Air Jumbos and SADA Cruzeiro played in the invitational last year, while Drean Bolivar won the inaugural Irvine International Volleyball Tournament in 2009.

SADA Cruzeiro returns as the defending champions after winning all four of its matches at the 2010 Irvine International Volleyball Tournament. Korean Air Jumbos finished the tournament in second place at 3-1.

Both SADA Cruzeiro and Korean Air Jumbos defeated UC Irvine last season as the Anteaters ended their home tournament in fourth place at 1-3.

UC Irvine has three starters returning for the upcoming season after it finished last year in fourth place in the MPSF and lost in the conference tournament semifinals.

Despite the roster turnover, several UC Irvine players gained international playing experience during the offseason.

All-American outside attacker Carson Clark played for the United States at the World University Games, while middle attacker Scott Kevorken helped lead the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team to a fourth-place finish at the World Championship. In addition, outside attacker Connor Hughes represented the United States in beach volleyball at the World University Games.

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