STOCKTON, Calif. - The UC San Diego men’s volleyball team took the first set but dropped the match to the University of the Pacific, 3-1, in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) action Saturday night at the Alex G. Spanos Center. Scores were 22-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-23.
Both sides were looking for their first MPSF win of the season, with UCSD (0-11, 0-10 MPSF) left still searching for its first triumph of 2014 overall. Pacific improved to 2-9 overall and 1-7 league play. It was a seventh straight success for the Tigers over the Tritons following season sweeps in each of the past three years, with this likely being UCSD’s final trip to Stockton, as Pacific announced late last August that it would be dropping its men’s volleyball program following the 2014 campaign.
UCSD was down 22-18 in the fourth set after Pacific answered a 3-0 run by the Tritons with a 3-0 run of its own. The Tritons then scored four of the next five points to close to within just one again at 23-22, with three kills from Metzger and a Kirill Rudenko service ace coming during that stretch. UCSD deflected one match point with another Metzger kill, but Thomas Hodges’ match-best 23rd kill ended it.
Though all four games were close and featured 20 tie scores in all, the lead only changed hands a total of four times on the night. UCSD hit .296 (57-20-125), just off its season best of .302, to .365 (60-14-126) by the home side.
“We had a good game plan going into the match and we were on task in game one,” said UCSD head coach Kevin Ring. “We opened up a 17-12 lead. Pacific made a small run, but we closed out the game on a kill by Scot Metzger. We got great production from our wing attackers as Scot, Nick Iorfino and Mike Brunsting had six, four and four kills, respectively.
“Pacific took an early lead in game two. We steadied out and closed the score to within one point at 20-19, but couldn’t take the lead. Unfortunately, games three and four played out in similar fashion. Scot Metzger had a big night for us as he hit 0.452 with 17 kills. Shayne Beamer came in off the bench to hit 0.833 as a middle hitter.
“We won game one and were very competitive in games 2-4, but it was not enough. There were a number of plays throughout the night that were well within our control to better execute. As we get better in those moments, we’ll turn a match like this in our favor.”
Metzger indeed had a career night, with highs of 17 kills, 31 attacks, eight digs and two blocks. Brunsting (Poway/Francis Parker School) narrowly missed his third career double-double with nine kills and 11 digs to share the match high. The senior added two aces. Iorfino joined Metzger in double-figure kills with a season-best 14. Redshirt freshman middle Ganesh Elie contributed career highs of seven kills and three total blocks.
Junior setter Garrett Dempsey dished out a season-high 45 assists to go along with nine digs to equal his career high. He had three kills, a career high, on three attempts. Beamer produced a career-high five kills on six kills without an error.
Hodges was one of three Tigers in double-digit kills, adding 10 digs for a double-double. He was also in on one of two triple blocks for Pacific in the second set.
Up next for UCSD finally is a first full home weekend for 2014, with No. 5 USC and No. 3 Pepperdine visiting RIMAC Arena on Friday, Feb. 14, and Saturday, Feb. 15, respectively. Both MPSF contests have 7 p.m. starts.