MALIBU, Calif. - The 11th-ranked UC San Diego men's volleyball team was swept at No. 6 Pepperdine Saturday night at Firestone Fieldhouse. Scores of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match were 25-23, 25-19 and 25-21.
After winning an unprecedented five straight matches, UCSD has now lost its last two, falling to 8-18 overall and 6-15 in the MPSF. Pepperdine upped its marks to 14-12 and 9-11 and secured a spot in the MPSF Tournament.
Coming into the night, five teams (BYU, Stanford, UC Irvine, UCLA and USC) had clinched a berth in the eight team MPSF tourney. Along with Pepperdine, Long Beach State also claimed a spot by defeating Pacific in four sets tonight.
Cal State Northridge, at 7-13 with two league matches remaining, is the front-runner for the final tournament slot. UCSD, which has one league match left to play, is still alive and would win the spot if it, CSUN and UC Santa Barbara all finish the regular season with 7-15 MPSF records. The Tritons need to defeat UC Irvine next week plus have the Matadors lose their final two and the Gauchos win their final two. Northridge hosts Pepperdine and USC while Santa Barbara plays at Stanford and Pacific. If that scenario unfolds, UC San Diego would win the tiebreaker between the three teams.
The Tritons hit .235 with 41 kills and 21 errors in 85 attacks while the Waves countered at .333 with 41 kills and 15 errors in 78 swings. After hitting .000 in the opening set, Pepperdine rebounded to hit .462 in set two and .519 in the third. UCSD also hit .000 in the first set and upped its marks to .267 and .462. The Waves held a sizable advantage in the sideout battle, regaining the serve 71 percent of the time to the Tritons' 60 percent.
Pepperdine put up a strong block Saturday, sending back 14 balls to UCSD's four. Both teams served up two aces on the night, but the Tritons made 11 errors from the line while the Waves made just five mistakes.
Outside hitter Carl Eberts led the Tritons with a match co-high 14 kills and 16.5 points while adding three blocks. Vaun Lennon, the reigning National Player of the Week, followed with 10 kills, hitting .353 from the outside. He also finished with a team-high five digs. Middle blocker Sebastian Brady posted a .500 attack percentage with seven kills and two errors in 10 swings and setter Garrett Dempsey totaled 35 assists.
For Pepperdine, Maurice Torres matched Eberts with 14 kills. He hit .381 and added five blocks and a match-best seven digs. Scott Rhein totaled nine kills and Chase Ross had eight. Matt Pollock led all players with seven blocks and Matt Tarantino chipped in with five stuffs.
The first set played the tightest with 11 tie scores and six lead changes. A kill by Lennon and a Pepperdine attack error led to a 19-17 lead for UCSD, but the Waves reeled off four unanswered points to take a 21-19 advantage. Another Lennon kill and a block by Mike Brunsting tied it up at 21-21 before a Ross kill and back-to-back blocks by Rhein and Tarantino allowed Pepperdine to regain the lead at 24-21. The Tritons closed the gap to one point as the Waves committed a serve error and Lennon put away another kill, but a Triton error at the service line gave the set to Pepperdine.
A pair of three-point runs early in the second set opened up a 6-2 lead for Pepperdine, which would not trail again.
Eberts opened the third set with back-to-back kills and the Tritons went on to lead by a score of 8-6 following a kill by Fred Stahl. Torres then registered two straight kills and Ross sunk an ace to give Pepperdine a 9-8 lead. UCSD tied it up two more times and was down by just one point at 17-16, but the Waves used four consecutive scores to put the set out of reach.
UCSD entertains Cal Baptist in a non-league match Thursday, Apr. 12 at 7 p.m. before hosting UC Irvine on Saturday, Apr. 14, also at 7 p.m.
- UCSDtritons.com -