COLUMBUS, Ohio - The University of California San Diego men's volleyball team wrapped up a season-long four-match road stretch with a straight-set defeat to No. 12 Ball State in non-conference, neutral-site action Saturday at Ohio State's St. John Arena. Scores were 25-23, 25-19 and 25-19.
With a 10th consecutive defeat, UC San Diego fell to 5-15. Ball State improved to 15-6 overall and 7-0 all-time against the Tritons. It was the first meeting between the sides outside of La Jolla.
For the 16th contest in succession, junior opposite Tanner Syftestad led his team in kills, collecting nine.
Junior setter Milosh Stojcic became the first Triton to achieve a double-double in 2017, finishing with 16 assists and a match- and career-high 11 digs. It was his second career double-double, the other coming at Holy Names on Jan. 23, 2016.
Senior middle blocker Shayne Beamer and true freshman libero Ryan Lew added six kills and six digs, respectively, with Beamer hitting .364 (6-2-11) and getting to three block assists. Junior Alec Flowers led all players with his five total blocks.
The first set was closest. Ball State opened with a 3-0 run, which was quickly offset by a 5-0 stretch, four of them served by Syftestad, that gave the Tritons a 7-5 lead. Tied a ninth and final time at 23-23, the Cardinals got a Brendan Surane kill and an opposing error to snatch the set victory.
Four points in a row by Ball State around a UCSD timeout gave it a 10-4 cushion in game two. The Tritons could get no closer than two the rest of the way. They did produce a triple block late, by Flowers, Syftestad and senior Josh Schmidt.
A 3-0 mini-run by the Cardinals in the third frame put them up by the score of 14-8. They led by as many as eight at 19-11 and 20-12, and soon completed the sweep.
"Heading into the match, we knew the importance of our ability to serve and pass at a high level," remarked UCSD head coach Kevin Ring. "We did that in spurts, but we often found ourselves behind, in large part because of our struggles in serve receive, and we also struggled to consistently put pressure on them with our serves. When we served tough and in and on the right target, we actually put ourselves in position to score service points, and we did. We looked pretty good. We were not consistent with that enough tonight. The rest of our level of play fed off of that.
"We had some bright spots and a few chances. We found ourselves behind early and were always playing catch-up. Sometimes you have to play really well just to get yourself back in the game, but then do you have anything left to make the next run and pull ahead. We just never did that tonight.
"Credit Ball State. They played well from start to finish and kept the pressure on us. We will continue to get back in the practice gym and work to find the brand of volleyball that is going to put us in the fight, night in and night out."
Matt Szews and Matt Walsh had 10 kills apiece for Ball State. Connor Gross dished out 32 assists. Surane had 10 digs.
UCSD returns both to home and Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play next, hosting Division II rival California Baptist on Tuesday, March 14. First serve at RIMAC Arena is set for 6 p.m.