LA JOLLA, Calif. - The UC San Diego men's volleyball team ran into a powerful UC Irvine offense and suffered a four-set defeat against the seventh-ranked and two-time defending national champion Anteaters Friday evening at RIMAC Arena. Scores of the match were 25-20, 22-25, 25-18 and 25-13.
UC Irvine hit a blistering .561 as a team, compiling 63 kills while making just eight errors in 98 attacks. The Anteaters also held an 8-3 advantage in blocks.
UCSD dropped to 2-22 overall and 1-21 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) with the loss. UCI, which has won eight of its last nine matches, is now 17-9 on the season and 14-8 in league play.
The Tritons hit .260 on the night with 46 kills and 20 errors in 100 attempts. Nick Iorfino paced the team with 16 kills, the lone player on the roster to hit double-digits in that category. Scot Metzger and Johl Awerkamp each finished with eight kills, while setter Mike Brunsting totaled 41 assists. Libero Tanner Howard led UCSD defensively with six digs.
The Anteaters had three players with 10 or more kills, including Jeremy Dejno (match-high 20), Connor Hughes (12) and Collin Mehring (10). Mehring hit .643 (10-1-14) and Dejno swung at a .633 (20-1-30) clip. Scott Kevorken registered seven kills and no errors in eight attacks and Michael Brinkley led all players with 10 digs.
UCI scored the first two points of the match on back-to-back kills by Dejno and Mehring and led for the rest of the opening set. UCSD kept it close and trailed by just two points, 15-13, following a kill by Iorfino. However, the Anteaters took five of the next seven points to go up 20-15 and essentially seal the first set win.
The first two points of the second frame went to the Tritons on a kill from Iorfino and an attack error by the Anteaters. UCSD stayed in front until three consecutive points by UCI tied the set at 18-18. A service error gave the edge back to the Tritons, but another three-point run by UC Irvine gave it a 21-19 lead. UCSD turned it on after that, scoring six of the next seven points to close out the set. Awerkamp placed a pair of service aces during the run.
The third and fourth sets began with UCI scoring the first two points and holding a lead for the remainder of each stanza.
In the third, the Anteaters used a four-point run to take a 15-9 advantage. UCSD got within four points at 20-16, but could not close the gap any further.
The fourth set saw UCI rush out to a 7-1 lead. A later three-point run put the Anteaters up by 11 at 20-9. They ended up hitting a match-best .684 in the set, dropping 13 kills and making zero errors in 19 attacks.
UC San Diego plays a non-conference match against UC Merced on Saturday, April 5, at 7 p.m. The two teams have never met as the Bobcats are a first-year, independent program.