LOS ANGELES, Calif. -
UC San Diego overturned a first-set defeat to nip No. 14 USC, 3-2, and complete its first-ever season sweep of the Trojans in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) men's volleyball action at the Lyon Center on Saturday night. Set scores were 23-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-20 and 15-12.
In snapping losing skids of five in all matches and six in conference tilts, UCSD improved to 7-16 overall and 4-14 in the MPSF. USC, the national runner-up in 2012, dropped its fifth straight in falling to 4-13 overall and 4-13 in the MPSF.
UCSD had already produced its first three-set victory over the Trojans in program history in its 2013 MPSF opener in La Jolla back on Jan. 10.
It was the Tritons' first MPSF road success in 10 tries this season.
UCSD was led by its senior trio of Carl Eberts, Chase Frishman and Greg Smith. Eberts put down 17 kills to lead all players, with Smith adding a career-high 13 kills and Frishman producing a team-high 11 digs.
Cheyne Hayes got his hands to a career- and match-high 11 total blocks. It marked the first double-digit blocking exhibition by a Triton in 2013. Fred Stahl added eight blocks of his own as UCSD finished with a season-high team total of 20.0. Hayes became the first Triton to reach a double-digit individual block total in a match since all-time leader Calvin Ross collected 12 against Hawai'i on Mar. 14, 2009.
The 20.0 team blocks were UCSD's most since attaining that identical mark in the same match against UH in 2009. Seven aces on the night were also a season high.
The Tritons produced a pair of rare triple blocks on the evening, with Hayes, Stahl and Nick Iorfino combining to roof Joey Booth for a 5-4 lead in the first set, and Stahl, Mike Brunsting and Vaun Lennon turning the trick again on Booth down 13-11 in the third.
The match featured 34 tie scores, including 10 in a tight first set that ultimately went to the home side, and 11 lead changes.
Early on in the decisive fifth stanza, stuff blocks first by Hayes and Sebastian Brady and then by Brunsting and Smith produced level scores of 1-1 and 5-5, respectively.
Around that action at the night, Eberts put his name to three kills in a six-point span, the last of them knotting the score once more at 7-7. An ensuing kill by Lennon sent the teams into the side-switch with the Tritons holding a narrow 8-7 edge.
A Josh Kircher kill and attack error by Smith pushed the Trojans ahead, 9-8, before a run of five straight points put UCSD on the brink of the upset at 13-9. The sequence was punctuated by yet another combo block, this one by Brady and Lennon.
A pair of Triton service errors around a Lennon kill left the tally at 14-11, with USC fending off a second match point through a bad attack by Lennon. That was all the Trojans could manage, however, as a cool-down timeout led into a match-ending kill by Lennon from Brunsting.
Brunsting, UCSD's junior setter, wound up with 41 assists, eight digs, three blocks, two aces and two kills. Josh Lake, a true freshman out of nearby Poway, provided a consistent lift throughout the contest as a serving specialist, with one ace and a kill.
"It was great to get a victory tonight and complete the season sweep versus USC," said Triton head coach Kevin Ring, who continues to produce program firsts in each year at the helm of his alma mater. "Heading into the match, we talked about pressuring USC from the service line as well as at the net with our block. Although we had 23 service errors, we came up with seven aces. Josh Lake did a tremendous job as a serving sub as he put in numerous tough serves during pressure situations.
"At the net, we came up with 20 stuff blocks, with Cheyne Hayes leading the way. From the offensive side of the ball, we got great production from Carl Eberts as he hit .375. Greg Smith added 13 kills and Sebastian Brady hit 1.000 on four swings.
"Although he got off to a slow start offensively, Vaun Lennon came up big late in the match. He added eight kills combined in games four and five, but it was his energy on the court that helped set the tone early."
Cristian Rivera (14), Booth (11) and Alex Slaught (11) all reached double digits in the kills category, with sophomore setter Micah Christenson providing 43 assists, a match-high 12 digs, two kills and three blocks. Robert Feathers had eight kills and a team-best five blocks. USC managed just one ace against 22 service errors.
UCSD now takes a break for winter quarter final exams before rounding out the road schedule at defending national champion UC Irvine on Thursday, Mar. 28, at 7 p.m.
"We have six MPSF matches remaining this season, and are fully committed to making a strong late-season run," concluded Ring.
Triton Notes: UCSD is now 1-9 in MPSF road matches in 2013 ... The win was its eighth all-time over USC (8-38) and fourth (2003, 2004, 2007, 2013) over the Trojans in Los Angeles ... UCSD's game-two win snapped a string of 19 straight sets lost in conference play ... Prior to tonight, the Tritons had played the minimum three sets in nine consecutive matches, going 2-7 ... With his 17 kills tonight, Carl Eberts increased his career total to 984, moving up from eighth to fifth-most in program history ahead of Jeff Babcock (970, 1985-89), Donald Chen (971, 1999-2001) and Zack Hite (976, 1998-2001), as he vies to become just the fifth Triton ever to reach the 1,000-kill plateau ... Eberts turned in the 52nd performance of his career with double-digit kills, and team-leading 13th this season ... Chase Frishman's team-high 11 digs increased his career total to 621, second-most in the program record book ... It was Frishman's seventh match this season with double-figure digs and 24th of his career ... Greg Smith reached double digits in kills for just the second time this season and first since the Jan. 4 season opener with Lewis ... Smith has four matches in his Triton career with 10 or more kills ... UCSD's previous high for team blocks in a match this season was 14.0 vs. Princeton on Jan. 30 ... Cheyne Hayes (11) and Fred Stahl's (eight) outputs made up the top two individual blocking performances by Tritons in 2013.
-- UCSDtritons.com --