NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - The University of California San Diego dropped a four-set decision at The Matadome to No. 9 CSUN in a Big West Conference men's volleyball match Friday night. Set scores were 25-22, 25-14, 19-25 and 25-17.
With the loss, UC San Diego is 9-17 overall and 0-9 in the Big West. CSUN snapped a three-match skid and improved to 14-10 overall and 4-5 in league play.
The Tritons were already locked into the No. 6 seed for the inaugural Big West Tournament next week, and will play in the first quarterfinal at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach. Their opponent is to be determined, after Saturday night's final matches. CSUN remains alive for the No. 2 seed behind host Long Beach State, which would mean direct entry into Friday's semifinals.
Senior opposite Tanner Syftestad and freshman outside hitter Wyatt Harrison had 12 and 11 kills, respectively, for the Tritons. Harrison added six digs, two blocks and an assist. Bryan Zhu (San Diego/Rancho Bernardo HS) collected seven kills on a team-best .357 hitting (7-2-14), one ace and two block assists. Fellow senior middle blocker Alec Flowers had seven kills of his own, to go with a team-best three blocks, including one solo stuff. Sophomore setter Connor Walbrecht collected 17 assists, a team-high eight digs, and three kills on three attacks off the bench.
CSUN also put two players in double-figure kills in seniors Arvis Greene, Jr. (17), and Josiah Byers (10) on its Senior Night. Byers compiled an .818 attack percentage (10-1-11), and also got to three solo blocks. Greene (4.63) and Syftestad (4.54), both senior opposite hitters, remain 1-2 in the nation in kills per set. Junior setter Sam Porter had 44 assists and nine digs, and directed the Matadors to a .406 hitting effort.
The first set saw 18 tie scores and a pair of lead changes. UC San Diego was still ahead as late as 22-20, but around both Triton timeouts, the home side tallied the final five points from there to steal the frame. Greene turned away Syftestad on set point.
CSUN parlayed that momentum into a dominant game-two performance, cruising out to a 17-8 advantage on one of three Dimitar Kalchev aces.
UC San Diego used a 4-0 run to overturn an early 6-3 deficit and force the first Matador timeout of game three. After a Byers kill tied it at 7-7, another 4-0 stretch by the Tritons necessitated the home team’s second and final timeout. The second run consisted of a Xander Jimenez kill, back-to-back stuff blocks by Flowers and Walbrecht on Kalchev, and then Flowers' solo denial of senior Eric Chance. One last 3-0 mini-run put the Tritons in control at 18-12, as they went on to extend the match.
The fourth stanza had only two tie scores, at 1-1 and 2-2, before CSUN quickly grabbed the upper hand at 9-4 as UC San Diego head coach Kevin Ring called for time. The Tritons could only get back to within four points the rest of the way.
UC San Diego concludes the 2018 regular season as the Tritons and Matadors play the second leg of their home-and-home series in La Jolla on Saturday night, April 14. First serve inside RIMAC Arena on North Campus is slated for just after 7 p.m., following a pre-match recognition ceremony for seven outstanding Tritons on Senior Night.
Triton Notes: UC San Diego is 4-10 away from home in 2018 ... Tanner Syftestad was back on the court and in the starting lineup at opposite hitter after missing the previous two matches due to illness ... Syftestad's 12 kills give him 1191 for his career, fifth in program history ... Syftestad's 34 attacks give him 2912 for his career, which pulls him even for third all-time with UC San Diego great (1993-96), former Triton women's volleyball head coach (2005-09) and current Georgia women's volleyball head coach Tom Black ... Milosh Stojcic's 18 assists give him 2484 for his four-year career, fourth all-time.