IRVINE, Calif. - The UC San Diego men’s volleyball team fell to two-time defending national champion UC Irvine, 3-0, in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) action at the Bren Events Center on Friday night. Scores were 25-11, 25-20, 25-12.
UCSD (0-9, 0-8 MPSF) was facing its seventh road test over its first nine matches.
Senior tri-captain Mike Brunsting (Poway/Francis Parker School) produced team highs of nine kills, six digs and two blocks for UCSD. In fact, his two solo blocks were all the Tritons were able to muster at the net against UCI (6-5, 3-4 MPSF), which attacked at a .464 rate (39-7-69) and accumulated 9.5 total team blocks.
Senior outside hitter Nick Iorfino added five kills, while sophomore newcomer Kirill Rudenko matched his career high with four kills off the bench. Libero Griffin Galvin contributed a career-best five digs. Fellow true freshman Ian Colbert drew his first collegiate start at outside hitter.
UC Irvine hit a hefty .579 (12-1-19) and added five service aces in a dominant first-set performance. Scott Kevorken provided a kill ahead of three straight aces to break the only tie of the frame and propel the ‘Eaters to a 5-1 lead.
A tighter game two in which there were 12 tie scores and three lead changes saw UCSD still nursing a narrow advantage as late as 16-15 on an Iorfino kill. The senior outside hitter had moments earlier put down back-to-back kills to turn a 14-13 deficit into a 15-14 Triton edge. Knotted one last time at 18-18 after a kill by redshirt freshman middle Ganesh Elie, UCI reeled off three straight points and seven of the next nine, with six courtesy of UCSD miscues, to take the set.
The home side broke a third and final deadlock of 3-3 in the third with a three-point run on a trio of kills. The result was put out of doubt in the aftermath of a huge 10-0 stretch that made for a 22-9 margin.
Jeremy Dejno led the Anteaters with a match-high 15 kills on .619 hitting (15-2-21), to go along with five block assists and four digs. Kevorken finished with six kills on nine swings without an error (.667), the three aces and four total blocks. Junior opposite Zack La Cavera collected nine kills and a match-high seven digs.
The ‘Eaters were credited with the night’s only triple block to tie the second set at 7-7, by Dejno, Kevorken and setter Daniel Stork, who had 29 assists and four digs.
“Although we lost our match versus No. 1-ranked UCLA (Thursday) night, we felt like we had much-improved offensive production,” said ninth-year UCSD head coach Kevin Ring. “Our goal tonight was to come right back against another strong team and compete at the same level. UCI served very well tonight, and as a result, our offense struggled to take off.
“I respect that our opponents never let up against us. The MPSF is too competitive to lighten up against anyone. The caliber of competition in the MPSF never lets up. We will continue to work to raise our level of play.”
UCSD completes its difficult season-opening stretch of nine of its first 11 matches away from home up in the Bay Area next weekend, playing at Stanford on Friday, Feb. 7, and at Pacific on Saturday, Feb. 8. Both contests will begin at 7 p.m.