Photo by: Derrick Tuskan
Freshman setter Blake Crisp totaled 45 assists Friday.

UC San Diego Drops Big West Opener to No. 3 UC Irvine

UC San Diego

LA JOLLA, Calif. - Wyatt Harrison and Xander Jimenez combined for 33 kills but the University of California San Diego men's volleyball team ran into a hot-hitting UC Irvine and fell, 3-1, in the Big West Conference opener for both squads Friday night at RIMAC Arena. 

Scores were 23-25, 25-19, 25-18, and 25-21 in favor of UCI, the third-ranked team in the nation.

The Tritons, who saw their two-match win streak halted, fell to 5-7 on the season. The Anteaters won their six-straight match to improve to 12-2.

UC San Diego hit .333 in the opening set, its best of the night, and sided out at 70 percent. UC Irvine, which hit .240 in set one, came alive to attack at .575 over the next three frames, which included a .692 performance in set two when it put down 18 kills with no errors in 26 attack attempts. In set four, the Anteaters again committed no errors, hitting .565 with 13 kills in 23 swings.

For the match, UC San Diego hit .265 (54-24-113) and UC Irvine finished at .490 (56-8-98). The Tritons sided-out at 65 percent and the Anteaters sided-out at 77 percent. 

Harrison led all players with 17 kills and Jimenez was just behind with 16. Jimenez hit .440 with five errors in 25 attacks. Collin Shannon also hit double-figures with 12 kills and freshman setter Blake Crisp amassed 45 assists. Libero Ryan Lew had a match co-high eight digs. Crisp and Vlad Pesic each had three blocks.

The score was tied 25 times overall, 17 of those coming in the first and second sets.

Down 23-22 in the first set, the Tritons rallied to score three consecutive points to take a 1-0 lead in the match. Kills by Pesic and Jimenez surrounded an attack error by the Anteaters.

UC San Diego led early in the second set, but with UCI leading 14-12 the Anteaters grabbed four of the next five points to go up 18-13. The Tritons got no closer than four points the rest of the way.

In the third and fourth sets, UC San Diego never took a lead. With UC Irvine ahead 19-16 in the third, the Anteaters won six of the final eight points to close it out. The fourth set saw the Tritons tie it at 12-12 with a four-point run backed by kills from Shannon, Jimenez, Harrison, and Pesic. UC Irvine called a timeout and came back to the floor to score five of the next six points and the Anteaters held a lead from there on.

Karl Apfelbach led the Anteaters with 15 kills, while Scott Stadick hit .667 with 12 kills and no errors in 18 swings. Stadick also added five blocks.

The two teams meet again on February 14 in Irvine. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. 

About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles, and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in the summer of 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's pre-eminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.

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