2021 Big West Preview: UC Irvine

Photo by Jonathan Bates

Jonathan Bates / Brandon Johnson

With the first match of 2021 involving Big West teams less than a week away, Off the Block will be previewing each of the conference’s six teams. The Big West finished last year with the best non-conference record of any NCAA Division I/II conference, and currently have five teams ranked in both the AVCA coaches poll and the Off the Block media poll. Today, we preview UC Irvine, who was picked No. 3 in the conference’s preseason coaches poll.

UC Irvine

Final 2020 Poll Rankings: 6/6
2020 Record: 10-7, 0-2 Big West

2020 Team Stats Rankings
● No. 2 nationally in blocks per game (2.183 blocks per game)
● No. 10 nationally in digs per game (9.57 digs per game)


2020 Individual Stats Rankings
● Middle attacker – Scott Stadick – No. 1 nationally with 2.03 blocks per game

2020 Individual Awards
● Middle attacker – Scott Stadick (National Blocker of the Year, Second-Team All-American)
● Outside attacker – Joel Schneidmiller (Second-Team All-American)

2021 Preseason All-Americans
● Middle attacker – Scott Stadick (first team)
● Outside attacker – Joel Schneidmiller (second team)

Lost to graduation
● Opposite – Patrick Sohacki
● Libero/Outside attacker – JB Kam*

* starter

New incoming players
● Middle attacker – Connor Campbell
● Outside attacker – Conner Dahm
● Libero – Gustavo Gomes
● Middle attacker – Jackson Payne
● Outside attacker – Francesco Sani
● Setter – Dylan Zhai

Returning starters
● Setter Patrick Vorenkamp
● Opposite Alexandre Nsakanda
● Outside attacker Joel Schneidmiller
● Outside attacker Akhil Tangutur
● Middle attacker Scott Stadick
● Middle attacker Sean Dennis

Returning Production
● Kills: 87.0 %
● Assists: 97.2%
● Aces: 86.2%
● Digs: 79.7%
● Blocks: 85.1%

Brandon’s Preview and Bold Prediction
Like many other teams in the Big West, UC Irvine returns plenty of production from the shortened 2020 season. The Anteaters will look to a strong senior class to lead the way in 2021 after getting off a slow start in Big West play in 2020. The strength and depth of the roster is enough for coaches to view them as the third best team in the conference.  Middle attacker Scott Stadick returns after winning National Blocker of the Year and leading the country in blocks per game, and setter Patrick Vorenkamp looks to build off a strong 2020 campaign. While Stadick is likely to be near the top of the blocking leaderboard again in 2021, I expect outside attacker Joel Schneidmiller to finish his collegiate playing career with an AVCA First Team All-American honor and be a favorite for the Karch Kiraly Award. 

One Reply to “2021 Big West Preview: UC Irvine”

  1. The Eaters only got 0.153 blocks per set from players not named Scott Stadick last year (Scott averaged 2.03/set, their team averaged 2.183/set)? That feels off, especially because it then says they return 85.1% of their blocks.

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