LA JOLLA, Calif. - The University of California San Diego fell in straight sets to No. 11 Ball State University, 3-0, in non-conference men's volleyball Saturday night at RIMAC Arena. Set scores were 25-23, 25-22 and 25-22.
With a second loss in as many nights at home, and a third straight overall, UC San Diego is now 8-9 overall. A fifth consecutive victory improves Ball State to 10-7 on the year. It was the opener of a four-match Spring Break California trip for the Cardinals of the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association. Ball State remains a perfect 8-0 all-time against UCSD.
Freshman outside hitter Wyatt Harrison and senior opposite Tanner Syftestad had 12 kills apiece for the Tritons, with sophomore libero Ryan Lew producing a match-high 11 digs and adding his first career kill. Redshirt junior middle blocker Drew Sloane, drawing his first start since Jan. 27, had a career-best two solo efforts among his four total blocks. Senior setter Milosh Stojcic dished out 35 assists.
Two Ball State players also posted 12 kills, in Matt Szews and Matt Walsh.
UCSD actually out-hit Ball State, .292-.281.
A competitive first set saw 15 tie scores, five lead changes, and a Triton squad that hit an efficient .344, to just .207 by the visitors. Back-to-back points gave UCSD a 19-17 advantage, but the next five went to Ball State, around both of Triton head coach Kevin Ring's timeouts. The hosts got back to within a point twice from there, at 23-22 and 24-23, but a service error coming out of Ball State's second timeout, ended the frame.
In the second set, UC San Diego trailed 20-16 at a timeout before rallying with six of seven points to grab a 22-21 edge. Ball State called its second and final timeout, and came back out to notch the next four points, stealing the frame and taking the commanding 2-0 lead. Those points came on kills by Szews and Walsh, around an attack error and Parker Swartz ace. The Cardinals gained credit for the lone triple block of the night earlier in the frame, by Szews, Walsh and Mitch Weiler for 15-11.
UCSD used a pair of 3-0 mini-runs early in game three to gather a 9-7 edge after giving up the first two points. A 4-0 stretch by Ball State moments later put them in a 12-10 hole and necessitated Ring's first timeout. With the set knotted for a ninth and final time at 14-14, the next five points went to the Cardinals around the second Triton timeout. UC San Diego could get no closer than within two points after that, and the sweep was complete. Nathan Thalken and senior captain Alec Flowers did combine on an emphatic stuff block to make it 20-18 late as Ball State had to call for time.
The Tritons round out a three-match homestand against USC this Wednesday night, March 7. First serve is set for 7 p.m. inside RIMAC Arena on North Campus in La Jolla. Those unable to attend can tune in for free in high definition on UCSDtritons.tv.
Triton Notes: Tanner Syftestad's 12 kills give him 1133 for his career, fifth in program history ... Syftestad's 25 attacks give him 2759 for his career, also fifth all-time ... Tonight marked Syftestad's 53rd career match in double-figure kills, including 16 of 17 in 2018 ... Milosh Stojcic's 35 assists give him 2382 for his four-year career, fifth all-time ... The Tritons managed just two service aces after a season-low one against UC Santa Barbara on Friday night ... UCSD is below .500 for the first time this season after opening with three successive wins ... The match was attended by former UC San Diego men's tennis head coach and alum Eric Steidlmayer, the current men's tennis head coach at UC Davis.