LA JOLLA, Calif. - Tanner Syftestad came within two kills of his career high, putting down 29, as the University of California San Diego defeated visiting California Baptist University, 3-1, in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) men's volleyball match inside RIMAC Arena on Tuesday night. Set scores were 25-18, 24-26, 25-16 and 25-22.
UC San Diego and California Baptist began the night on 10- and seven-match losing skids, respectively. The result moved UC San Diego to 6-15 overall and 3-11 in the MPSF. CBU is now 3-16 overall and 1-13 in league play. The Tritons had dropped the previous four meetings in 2015 and 2016. The teams are still scheduled to contest a non-conference matchup in Riverside on April 12 to conclude the regular season.
Syftestad comfortably led all players with his 29 kills, coming on efficient .472 (29-4-53) hitting. He ran his streak of matches with at least a share of the team high in kills, to 17 straight. Syftestad had tallied 31 kills in a five-set home triumph over Hope International back on Jan. 28, those coming on a career-high 56 attacks. The Sacramento product ran his season total above the 300 mark, now at a career-best 303. He accounted for 29 of his team's 51 kills on the night.
Syftestad added a match-high four service aces, all coming in the opening frame, to equal his career best, as well as a season-high six total blocks to share the match high, and four digs. All told with the aces and blocks, the junior opposite and tri-captain actually bettered his career-best point performance, with 36.5, falling half a point shy of the top effort by an MPSF player in 2017.
Two Tritons reached double figures in digs for the first time this year, in senior Ian Colbert (13) and redshirt freshman Xander Jimenez (11). Both were career bests. The starting outside hitters combined for 11 kills. Jimenez also compiled three block assists and a season-high three aces as UCSD totaled a season-high 11 as a team. It was in fact the most aces for the Tritons in a single match since they managed 11 in a home sweep of UC Merced on April 5, 2014.
Senior middle blocker Shayne Beamer finished with four kills without an error on seven swings (.571), six block assists, four digs and an ace. Junior setter Milosh Stojcic dished out 43 assists and served one winner of his own.
Back-to-back Syftestad aces gave UCSD the early 6-2 lead in the first, but CBU answered with the next four to knot the score at 6-6. A huge dig by Beamer later kept the play alive for a Triton point on a Lancer attack error, the visitors calling the contest's first timeout down 15-11 at the end of a 4-0 run. A nifty set by Stojcic was converted into a kill by Syftestad, with two more consecutive Syftestad aces on the ensuing two serves forcing CBU's second timeout at 18-13. Another Syftestad kill rounded out UCSD's second 4-0 run. He had seven kills and four aces in the game.
California Baptist took a second set that featured nine tie scores and three lead changes. The Tritons actually held an 11-8 advantage at the first timeout, but a 3-0 stretch put the Lancers up by one at 14-13. The visitors eventually earned triple set point at 24-21, but UCSD leveled it at 24-24 via two Syftestad kills and a Colbert ace. Following a timeout, however, a service error and Cody Jackson ace made it 1-1.
In the third, a big kill by redshirt junior middle blocker Bryan Zhu (San Diego/Rancho Bernardo HS) gave the Tritons a 16-10 cushion. Four straight points pushed it out to 20-12. Junior Luke La Mont entered the fray late at 23-16, and served an ace on set point after a Syftestad kill.
UCSD tallied the first two points of game four, the second on a delicate crosscourt kill by Syftestad from right to the short left. The only triple block of the match, by Jackson, Jackson Burge and Rohit Paul, broke a 7-7 tie. Trailing 14-13, the Tritons notched six of the next seven around both of the Lancers' timeouts, to go 19-15. CBU got within two points on four occasions from there, but Syftestad's 29th kill ended it.
Syftestad's offense was evenly distributed, with seven kills in the first, second and fourth, and eight in the third.
Luis Palos and Kevin Vaz provided 13 kills apiece for the Lancers. Libero Emmett Enriques contributed 12 digs.
UCSD remains in home action and welcomes Division II rival Concordia Irvine into RIMAC Arena for a non-conference tilt this Friday, March 17, at 7 p.m.