LA JOLLA, Calif. - Among Tanner Syftestad's team-high 17 kills on Saturday night was the milestone 1000th of his four-year career, but the University of California San Diego was beaten by Stanford University, 3-1, in a non-conference men's volleyball match at RIMAC Arena. Set scores were 25-21, 20-25, 25-20 and 25-21.
In seeing its two-match win streak ended, UC San Diego dropped to 7-3 on the season. Stanford improved to 2-8. The injury-plagued Cardinal were coming off four straight-set losses in a row, all against Big West Conference opponents, since their only victory on Jan. 13. UCSD and Stanford were Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) rivals the past 25 years before the Tritons left to join the newly-formed Big West.
Syftestad's 16th kill of the night, from fellow senior Milosh Stojcic's assist, gave the Tritons a 19-16 lead in the fourth set as they tried to extend the contest to a decisive fifth frame. Still clinging to a two-point edge at 21-19 moments later, UC San Diego saw the Cardinal tally the next six points and finish off a 14th successive victory in the all-time series.
Syftestad's 17 kills came on .302 hitting (17-4-43), as he also added three service aces to lead all players, three total blocks, two digs and an assist. Stojcic wound up with 35 assists, six digs to share the team high, and a pair of kills. Freshman outside hitter Wyatt Harrison joined Syftestad in double-figure kills, putting down 12 on a .588 attack rate (12-2-17), both season bests for the Hawaii product.
Eric Beatty collected a match-high 18 kills for Stanford, with senior middle blocker Kevin Rakestraw and freshman opposite Jaylen Jasper contributing 10 and 14, respectively. Junior setter Russell Dervay had 45 assists and eight digs.
Neither the second or third sets had any lead changes, as UC San Diego was in command of the second following a brief 1-1 tie, and Stanford was ahead for the entirety of the following frame. The Cardinal out-hit the Tritons, .339-.279. The sides combined for 36 service errors.
Early in the first, Harrison handled two successive overpasses for kills to give UCSD a 5-3 edge. He would complete that game with a match-high seven kills, three directly from overpasses. Stanford notched three straight points to go up 11-10, but Harrison and senior middle Alec Flowers combined for a big block, the first of the night by either team, on Jasper to break an 11-11 tie. A Jasper ace had UCSD calling the contest's first timeout, down 15-13. A lengthy rally culminated in a Syftestad kill, and Stanford used its initial timeout, nursing an 18-16 lead. Later, the Tritons turned away three set points, the final one on a triple block by Flowers, Harrison and Syftestad, but after Stanford's second timeout, a service error ended the game.
Syftestad served back-to-back aces to jump UC San Diego out to an 8-3 lead at the first break in set two. The Tritons were ahead by as many as eight at and 15-7 and 16-8 on Syftestad kills, as he had five in the frame, as well as at 17-9 and 18-10. They held on.
UC San Diego timeouts came at deficits of 12-8 and 16-10 in the third, the latter at the end of a 4-0 Stanford run. A big Syftestad solo stuff at 20-16 on Beatty was a Triton highlight, but the visitors were hardly threatened.
The fourth began with an emphatic combo stuff by Syftestad and Drew Sloane on Beatty. Kyler Presho's solo denial of Sloane drew the Cardinal even at 11-11. Syftestad's third and final ace gave the Tritons a 15-12 advantage and forced Stanford into a timeout, but the Cardinal finally were level at 21-21, and took it from there.
UC San Diego concludes this three-match homestand on Thursday night, Feb. 8, welcoming in sixth-ranked MPSF favorite BYU. First serve at RIMAC Arena on North Campus in La Jolla is set for an earlier 6 p.m. Those unable to attend can view the contest for free, in high definition, on UCSDtritons.tv.
Triton Notes: Tanner Syftestad's 17 kills give him 1001 for his career, sixth in program history as he is just the sixth Triton men's volleyball player to reach the 1000-kill milestone ... Syftestad's 43 attacks give him 2468 for his career, also sixth all-time ... Syftestad's three aces give him 74, now alone in fourth in the record book ... Syftestad has 46 career matches in double-figure kills, including nine of 10 thus far in 2018 ... Milosh Stojcic's 35 assists give him 2140 for his four-year career, moving him up from sixth all-time to fifth, over Satao Minami and his 2135 from 1994-97 ... UC San Diego has lost 12 straight to Stanford in La Jolla dating back to a 3-1 victory on April 14, 2006, and 14 meetings in a row overall since a 3-0 sweep in Palo Alto on Feb. 11, 2011 ... Having just made his season debut on Wednesday after recovering from injury, outside hitter Xander Jimenez drew his first start of 2018.