NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Carl Eberts and Johl Awerkamp combined for 37 kills to help lead the 15th-ranked UC San Diego men's volleyball team to its first victory against No. 13 Cal State Northridge in over 24 years Friday night. Scores from the Matadome were 19-25, 30-28, 25-18 and 25-21.
With its third league road win in a row, UCSD upped its season record to 6-16 and its Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) mark to 4-13. With its third straight loss, CSUN's records were lowered to 8-13 overall and 4-10 in conference play.
The Tritons' last win against the Matadors occurred on Jan. 30, 1988 in La Jolla. Between the two victories, Northridge won 40 times.
"This was a real gutsy performance by the Tritons tonight," said UCSD head coach Kevin Ring. "I'm really proud of the way we played and kept ourselves in the moment."
UCSD hit .270 (62-24-141) to CSUN's .189 (47-24-122), which included swinging at a .467 (17-3-30) clip in the third set. The Matadors out-blocked the Tritons 12.5 to 10.5.
Eberts' and Awerkamp's kill totals matched exactly what the duo logged in Thursday's win at No. 9 Long Beach State. Vaun Lennon also had a productive night, recording 13 kills, six digs and four block assists. Freshman setter Garrett Dempsey racked up 50 assists and nine digs, both career-bests. Libero Chase Frishman led all players and matched a career-high with 15 digs, while Sebastian Brady tallied six block assists.
The first set was tight all the way up until a kill by Awerkamp evened it for the 11th time at 15-15. However, the next three points went to the Matadors, two coming off aces by Danny Rodrick. The Tritons couldn't find a way to close the gap and Northridge ended up winning the opener by six points. Awerkamp totaled six kills in the set.
It was close again early in the second frame before UCSD opened up a four-point lead at 12-8. The Tritons held their lead up until 21-20 when a John Baker kill tied it for the first time since 6-6. Brandon Lebrock put down a kill on the next play to give CSUN a 22-21 advantage, its first since 6-5. Play returned to a back-and-forth tempo until a Triton attack error gave the Matadors a 28-27 lead. However, Lennon tied it up for a final time with a kill and two straight Matador hitting faux pas gave the set to UCSD, evening the match up at one apiece. Eberts had seven kills for the Tritons.
UCSD never trailed in set three. Two consecutive blocks by Brady and Awerkamp propelled the Tritons to a five-point lead at 22-17. Eberts took over by smashing two kills and combining with Brady and Mike Brunsting on a triple block to close out the frame and give UCSD a 2-1 lead in the match. Dempsey, who had 13 assists in both the first and second sets, amassed 15 helpers in the third.
Down 3-2 to start the fourth set, the Tritons rallied for six unanswered points to go up by a score of 8-3. Awerkamp accounted for two of the points with a pair of kills. Northridge came within two at 17-15, but never closed the gap any tighter. The Matadors turned aside two match points, but Awerkamp finished it with a kill, giving the Tritons their long-awaited victory.
For the Matadors, Lebrock finished with 18 kills, seven digs and four blocks and Baker totaled 10 kills. Drew Staker stuffed nine balls at the net while Charlie Condron had a team-best 12 digs.
"We really learned how to stay in the match tonight, not panic and win close games," said Ring. "This is a huge lift for the program. We're excited."
The last time UCSD had won in Northridge was on Feb. 11, 1986.
Prior to Thursday's win at Long Beach State, UCSD took down No. 12 UC Santa Barbara at the Thunderdome on Mar. 9. Not since 2008 have the Tritons won three matches in a row.
Tonight's contest was the final of UCSD's six-match road swing. Following a week off, the Tritons return to RIMAC Arena to host a pair of MPSF matches - UCLA on Mar. 30 and UC Santa Barbara on Mar. 31. Both matches are scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.
- UCSDtritons.com -