NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - UC San Diego was felled by No. 15 Cal State Northridge, 3-0, in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) men’s volleyball match at The Matadome on Wednesday night. Scores were 25-20, 25-21, 25-21.
UCSD (0-14, 0-13 MPSF) got 12 kills from senior Mike Brunsting (Poway/Francis Parker School) and a career-best 10 more from redshirt sophomore outside hitter Eric Barber. Brunsting accounted for nine of UCSD’s 14 kills in the third set, and also had seven digs and five assists for the contest. Barber added two block assists and his first three career service aces, the match high, hitting .533 with two errors on 15 total swings.
Cal State Northridge (4-8, 4-7 MPSF) had lost five in a row, all in straight sets, and was beginning a season-long four-match homestand. The teams will meet again in La Jolla on March 29.
Despite a pair of Triton combination blocks early on, CSUN got out to a 10-5 lead ahead of the night’s first timeout. A three-point run consisting of a kill and back-to-back aces, all by Barber, made it 17-10 in favor of the home side. UCSD turned away three successive set points to force a Matador timeout at 24-20 on kills by redshirt freshman middle Ganesh Elie and senior outside hitter Nick Iorfino, and then a stuff block by the duo. Coming out of the break, a Sam Holt kill down the middle gave Cal State Northridge game one.
UCSD actually out-hit CSUN in the opening frame, .391-.370, with Barber and redshirt freshman middle Mathew Schnitzer coming up with three kills apiece.
The Matadors quickly trotted out to a 5-1 edge in the second game. Down 12-6, the Tritons called for time. A pair of Barber kills around a CSUN attack error halved the UCSD deficit to 14-11 as Northridge took its first timeout of the frame. The Matadors tallied the next three points, however, on a service error and two hitting miscues. A dump kill and block assist by CSUN setter Travis Magorien with Greg Faulkner pushed the lead to 22-17 before Faulkner’s kill put UCSD in a 2-0 hole in sets.
The third set was knotted at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4 and 5-5 before a triple block by Faulkner, Magorien and Kyle Stevenson gave CSUN a two-point cushion. A Faulkner kill triggered UCSD’s first timeout at 8-5. After the bulge grew to 10-5, consecutive kills by Brunsting and a service ace by junior setter Garrett Dempsey closed the deficit back to just two at 10-8.
A rare kill by a libero came from the Matadors’ Bradley Sakaida as his dig found the back side of the Tritons’ court, with a thunderous kill by Holt building the advantage back up to 14-10. UCSD’s final timeout came at 17-12. The Tritons made one last three-point run via kills by Barber and Brunsting after a Magorien service error for 22-19, but Northridge closed out the match moments later.
Freshman libero Griffin Galvin collected a match- and career-high 10 digs. Iorfino and Schnitzer contributed five kills apiece. Iorfino had five digs and Schnitzer three block assists. Dempsey finished with 28 assists.
UCSD out-blocked its opponent for just the second time this season, 6.0-4.5.
“In games one and two, we found ourselves down early and had to play some good volleyball just to get ourselves back in the match,” said UCSD head coach Kevin Ring. “We made runs in each of those games, but we spotted CSUN too many early points.
“We hit .295 for the match (.391 in game one and .310 for game three), but we didn’t sideout effectively (57 percent). For us to better challenge our opponents game by game, we need to sideout at 68 percent and above.
“We got great production from Eric Barber. After a slow start, Mike Brunsting got going and finished with 12 kills. Mathew Schnitzer was strong in the middle as he hit .444. As we can get three or four players all putting up good numbers in the same set, we’ll begin to win games and matches.”
For CSUN, Holt put down a match-best 13 kills. Faulkner joined him in double figures with 10. Magorien came up with four kills on five attempts, 32 assists, two aces, three digs and team-high three total blocks.
UCSD plays at No. 6 Long Beach State (8-4, 7-4 MPSF) this Friday, Feb. 21. First serve at the Walter Pyramid is set for 7 p.m.