Photo by: Ken Grosse/UCSD Athletics
Johl Awerkamp aided in the straight-sets victory with nine kills and three aces.
Record Hitting Night as UCSD Rolls Over UC Merced
Release: Saturday 04/05/2014 

LA JOLLA, Calif. - UC San Diego put together a record hitting night in overwhelming UC Merced in non-conference men’s volleyball Saturday at RIMAC Arena. Set scores were 25-13, 25-10 and 25-11 in a match that lasted a mere 57 minutes.

The Tritons hit .554 (39-8-56) as a team, the program’s highest percentage in both college volleyball’s rally-scoring era since 2011, and the NCAA Division II era since the 2001 season. It is quite possibly an all-time school standard. The only other time since 2001 that UCSD eclipsed the .500 mark in attack rate was in another 3-0 home win, against Princeton on Jan. 27, 2010. The Tritons hit .518 that night (53-10-83).

UCSD improved to 3-22 overall with the victory. UC Merced concluded its inaugural season of men’s volleyball as an independent member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) at 4-13. Saturday was the teams’ first-ever meeting.

In addition to the hitting percentage, the Tritons also turned in a season-high 11 service aces, their largest total since reaching 11 in a 3-1 home upset of then-third-ranked Ohio State on March 24, 2011. Kirill Rudenko entered the match with four aces on the year and served a match-high five on the night. Former star setter Phil Bannan last posted five aces in a match at UC Irvine on Jan. 12, 2011.

Senior opposite Johl Awerkamp added three aces of his own to go along with two block assists and a match-high nine kills. Eric Barber, like Rudenko a redshirt sophomore outside hitter, collected eight kills on .700 (8-1-10) hitting off the bench. Rudenko added five kills and season bests of five digs and two blocks.

All 15 Tritons in uniform saw action. Both senior Mike Brunsting (10 assists, two kills, one ace, two digs) and junior Garrett Dempsey (21 assists) played setter.

UC Merced scored the first point of the night on a combination block and held leads of 2-1 and 3-1 through two more Triton hitting errors before a three-point run from two Awerkamp kills and a Scot Metzger kill put UCSD on top, 4-3. Following one final deadlock at 4-4 on a bad serve, the home side was never challenged again. The first timeout of the evening at 12-6 preceded a set-clinching 6-0 stretch for 18-7.

The Tritons got out to leads of 8-1 in each of the next two frames. The early run in that final set was capped by three straight Barber kills, with back-to-back overpasses expertly handled. Rudenko served a pair of aces during his five-point rotation around Barber’s efforts, for 5-1 and 9-1 after a UCM timeout.

UCSD tallied the last five points of the night, on two Ian Colbert kills around a kill by Ganesh Elie, and then successive Awerkamp aces.

Samuel Hala’ufia paced the Bobcats with eight kills and four blocks, while fellow freshman Daniel Sabzehzar contributed five kills and four blocks of his own.

UCSD concludes a season-long six-match homestand and its 2014 campaign with two Mountain Pacific Sports Federation matches next Friday, April 11, against Pacific, and the following night versus Stanford. First serves are slated for 7 p.m. inside RIMAC Arena.


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