PROVO, Utah - The No. 13 UC San Diego men's volleyball team was sent to a 3-0 defeat by third-ranked BYU in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) contest at Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday night. Set scores were 25-15, 25-19 and 25-23.
The defeat dropped the Tritons to 3-4 overall and an even 2-2 in conference play. BYU, likely to ascend to the top of the national poll come Monday, improved to 5-1 overall and an unbeaten 4-0 in league play. The Cougars had knocked off No. 1 UC Irvine, 3-1, also at home, one night prior.
“BYU is a very good team, and a very good team at home,” said Triton head coach Kevin Ring. “I think we can play with them, but we have to match their level. We talked about it before the match, that we had to sideout for a high percentage, and we had to hit with high efficiency, because we knew they were going to do that.
“Game one, they hit .579 and sided out 100 percent, so you can’t get too much better than that. We got behind with service errors. We just need to be good at all of those little off-plays, to turn the tide in our favor, to be able to score that point in transition, to get that tough sideout. We didn’t do that tonight, but there were still moments where I liked what I saw."
BYU jumped out to a 5-1 advantage in the first set before a UCSD timeout, and the Tritons never got closer than three points for the rest of the frame. The Cougars advanced their bulge to as many as nine points at 21-12 before settling on a 25-15 win through back-to-back Devin Young kills. Senior outside hitter Carl Eberts put down a set-best six kills on eight attacks without an error for UCSD.
It was more of the same in the second stanza as the home side trotted along to an 8-2 lead. Despite two successive points by UCSD, BYU eventually extended to a 21-11 cushion as Taylor Sander put down a kill and served a pair of aces to kick-start a five-point Cougar run. The first of those aces gave the junior Huntington Beach native a school-record 92 for his career. The Tritons earned five of the next six points, but BYU took the set, 25-19, and Sander's fourth kill of the game.
UCSD led for the first time on the night early in the third set. After surrendering the first point, a kill by Vaun Lennon, combination blocks by Eberts and Joel Schow on consecutive attacks by Ben Patch gave the Tritons a 3-1 edge. That advantage was short-lived, however, as BYU answered with three straight points of its own.
Two kills by Eberts around a Lennon kill put UCSD back on top, 6-4. The peculiar stretch of dueling three-point runs continued to give BYU a 7-6 lead. A stuff block by Sander and Young and an awry attack by Eberts made it 9-6 and forced a Triton timeout. Moments later, kills by Lennon and Eberts pulled UCSD within one again at 15-14, and led to a first timeout on the night by the Cougars.
Coming out of the brief break, a Russ Lavaja attack error knotted the score back up at 15-15, before two Sander kills sandwiched around a combo block by Young and setter Ryan Boyce regained a comfort level for the hosts at 18-15. Following UCSD's second and final timeout of the set, Young denied Triton sophomore Joel Schow and Lavaja served an ace to put BYU further in control of the game.
UCSD still had some life left in it, as Sebastian Brady and Lennon produced kills and an attack error by Sander necessitated BYU's final timeout at 22-20. Two Triton mistakes made it match point at 24-20. A Lennon kill preceded a combo block by Lennon and Schow on Ben Patch and yet another Eberts kill for 24-23, but Lavaja finally put the match away, converting on a Boyce assists.
Eberts finished with team highs of 13 kills and seven digs while Lennon hit .615 (9-1-13). For the Cougars, Sander wound up with 11 kills and five total blocks. Lavaja turned away eight attack attempts in all as BYU out-blocked UCSD, 16.5-4.
The Tritons return to La Jolla from Utah on Sunday and await a two-match conference set at home next weekend. UCSD hosts No. 10 Cal State Northridge on Friday, Jan. 25, and No. 9 Long Beach State on Saturday, Jan. 26. Both matches have start times of 7 p.m. inside RIMAC Arena.
Triton Notes: With his 13 kills tonight, Carl Eberts increased his career total to 844, ninth-most in program history, as he vies to become just the fifth Triton ever to reach the 1,000-kill plateau ... Eberts has 44 matches with 10-plus kills for his career, including five so far this season ... With five more digs, Chase Frishman now has 499 for his career, sixth-most on the all-time UCSD list ... Sophomore middle blocker Joel Schow earned credit for his first collegiate kill midway through the third set, and also had a career-best and team-high three total blocks ... With the result, BYU improves to 33-0 all-time against UCSD, including 17-0 in Provo.
-- UCSDtritons.com --