MALIBU, Calif. - The University of California San Diego played well in spurts but could not stop No. 8 Pepperdine University when it counted most, losing a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) men's volleyball match 3-0 inside Firestone Fieldhouse on Thursday night. Set scores were 27-25, 25-20 and 25-15.
The result snaps a two-match win streak for UC San Diego, which falls to 7-16 overall and 3-12 in the MPSF. The Tritons had been idle from competition since March 17 for winter quarter final exams. In its home finale on Senior Night, Pepperdine posted its first straight-set triumph of 2017 and improved to 9-10 overall and 7-9 in league play. The defeat does not officially eliminate the Tritons from MPSF Tournament contention, nor does it clinch a berth for the Waves. The two teams will complete their season series in La Jolla next Friday, April 7.
The opening set was tied at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4 and 5-5 before back-to-back Triton hitting errors spurred a 3-0 mini-run that gave the home side an 8-5 lead. The sides traded single points until senior middle blocker Shayne Beamer's float serve landed for an ace to put UCSD within one at 11-10. A kill and an ace by junior opposite Tanner Syftestad knotted the score again at 12-12, before the night's first blocks, by Milosh Stojcic and Bryan Zhu, gave the Tritons their first lead at 13-12. Three straight Wave points forced UCSD into the contest's first timeout, down 16-14.
Pepperdine took its largest lead at 19-15 to bring about the Tritons' final timeout. A combination block by Beamer and redshirt junior tri-captain Calvin Manchenko, in the starting lineup for the first time this season at outside hitter, made it 22-18. Beamer punctuated a lengthy rally with a big kill at 22-20 as the Waves called their first timeout. Another long rally also went the way of UCSD on a long attack to turn away the first set point, and Syftestad served an ace to save another one and cause Pepperdine's last timeout. Manchenko's kill off the tape and down leveled matters again at 24-24. Syftestad denied a fourth set point with a kill for 25-25, but the Waves converted on a fifth set-point opportunity to win it, 27-25.
UCSD held a one-point edge through the early part of game two, including at 6-5 as Stojcic slammed down the free ball from his setter spot. The Waves ultimately grabbed the advantage back, however, with a Triton timeout necessary at 17-13. Pepperdine hit .593 (17-1-27) en route to the comfortable set victory, 25-20.
The Waves gradually built an 11-6 cushion at the first break in the third, and cruised from there to complete the sweep.
Syftestad led UCSD in kills for a 19th consecutive match with 14. He added two aces in the first and seven digs. Manchenko finished with a career-best nine digs. Freshman libero Ryan Lew provided a team-high 10 digs in his return to the court following a one-match absence due to injury. Stojcic wound up with 29 assists and a pair of kills on two attempts. Junior middle Alec Flowers had a team-high three blocks off the bench in the third. Senior Ian Colbert collected eight kills and five digs.
"Coming off of our last two matches, both victories, along with a good week of practice, we were definitely excited heading into this match," said UCSD head coach Kevin Ring. "I felt like we could play at a high level, be competitive and look to win the match. We played a pretty good first set. Pepperdine had a couple of runs to take leads, and we had to work real hard to get ourselves back in the set. The same thing happened late. They were up 24-21. We did a great job of tying up the game, but we had to work so hard just to tie it, and they went on to win, 27-25. What we never did do tonight is really establish a lead and hold it for a while.
"They just outplayed us tonight. If you're going to beat a team as disciplined as Pepperdine, you have a find something you're going to clearly do better than them on that night. We played them even in some areas. I thought the serving was pretty even. They had a few more blocks and digs than us. Other than that, they outplayed us. We will definitely play better when we host them in just over a week."
Redshirt sophomore outside hitter David Wieczorek led all players with his 17 kills and .556 (17-2-27) hitting, and served both of Pepperdine's aces. Setter Soren Dion-Kindem had a double-double with 34 assists and a match-best 13 digs.
UC San Diego flies to the Bay Area this Saturday, April 1, to take on ninth-ranked Stanford inside Maples Pavilion later that same evening at 6 p.m. The match will be broadcast to a national television audience on Pac-12 Bay Area.