LA JOLLA, Calif. - The University of California San Diego men's volleyball team won the third set and ran out to a 6-1 lead in the fourth to worry No. 6 UCLA before falling in four at RIMAC Arena on Saturday night. Scores were 25-19, 25-21, 22-25 and 25-21.
UC San Diego fell to 5-11 overall and 2-9 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF). The Tritons have lost six straight. UCLA put an end to a three-match losing skid and moved to 11-7 overall and 8-6 in league play. The Bruins had won the season's first meeting, 3-0, in Los Angeles on Jan. 14.
UCSD's third-set triumph put an end to a string of 30 consecutive set defeats against UCLA, since game four of a 3-2 Bruin victory in Santa Barbara on Jan. 4, 2013.
Tri-captains Tanner Syftestad (.406) and Ian Colbert (.300) shared the team high for UCSD with 14 kills apiece. Syftestad has now held at least a share of the Tritons' high over the past 12 contests, the junior also contributing five digs, three blocks, one assist and an ace. Colbert's total was a season best. He added a team-high six digs. Junior setter Milosh Stojcic collected 36 assists en route to directing UCSD to a .374 (43-9-91) hitting percentage with single-digit attack errors.
Colbert's line on offense for the first frame was 5-0-6 without an error, with the statistical oddity of the two teams combining for exactly zero blocks. A 4-0 Bruin run around the first timeout of the evening sent the visitors on their way, up 12-7. UCLA (.778) and UCSD (.647) both hit at blistering rates, with just one mistake each.
UCLA went up 5-2 early in the second, with the Tritons catching up at 15-15 on a kill by redshirt sophomore middle blocker Drew Sloane that came as a result of a strong serve by freshman Devin Pontigon (Oceanside/El Camino HS). The Bruins notched five of the next six, however, to help grab a 2-0 lead in sets.
Game three was just about all UCSD, as the home side trotted out to an 8-4 advantage to force a first timeout for the contest by John Speraw, the current head coach of the Olympic bronze medalist U.S. national team. A cross-court Syftestad kill made it 10-5, and a solo denial by Stojcic took it to 18-14 at the second Bruin timeout. Stojcic later dumped a Syftestad set as roles were reversed, to push the Tritons to set point. Redshirt sophomore Luke McDonald came on as a serving substitute and promptly unleashed his second of two aces.
Despite that 6-1 early edge in the fourth that caused another Speraw timeout, UCSD was unable to hold on to force a decider. The Bruins tied it at 9-9, with their third triple block of the match knotting it again at 13-13. A 3-0 mini-run broke one final tie score of 15-15, and the Tritons could get no longer than two the rest of the way.
Senior Josh Schmidt, in just his third appearance this season after recovering from injury, spent the entire night at the libero position as true freshman Ryan Lew was forced to miss a second consecutive match due to illness. Schmidt had four digs.
Christian Hessenaur wound up with match highs of 15 kills and eight digs for UCLA. Jake Arnitz (12) and Dylan Missry (11) also reached double figures in kills, with Missry also serving four aces to go along with seven digs. Freshman phenom Daenan Gyimah had nine kills on .667 hitting and led all with five blocks. Setter Micah Ma'a was spectacular at times and dished out 55 assists in total while also producing five kills on five attacks.
UCSD embarks on a season-long four-match road stretch, beginning Wednesday night, March 1, at No. 11 CSUN. First serve at The Matadome is set for 7 p.m.