LA JOLLA, Calif. - In a collegiate men’s volleyball classic between one team wanting to end its season on a winning high note, and another trying to extend its campaign into the postseason, No. 14 University of Hawai’i came out the victor over UC San Diego, 3-2, on Senior Night Saturday at RIMAC Arena.
Set scores were 25-27, 26-24, 19-25, 25-21 and 15-11.
With the win, the visiting Warriors snatched the eighth and final berth into the 2013 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Tournament, and as the eighth seed, will play at top-ranked and top-seeded BYU in Provo, Utah, next Saturday, Apr. 20, in the quarterfinal round. Hawai’i also needed No. 10 Cal State Northridge to lose at No. 2 Long Beach State in order to play on. By the late stages of the third set in La Jolla, the host 49ers had finished off a 3-0 sweep of the Matadors to further accentuate the drama inside RIMAC.
With the defeat, UCSD finished its season at 7-22 overall and 4-20 in the MPSF. UH improved to 11-16 overall and 10-14 in league play.
A quartet of Tritons reached double figures in kills, led by Vaun Lennon off the bench with 14. Sebastian Brady (11), Greg Smith (11) and Carl Eberts (10) trailed him. Lennon had seven digs while Smith also provided a team-high six blocks. Johl Awerkamp and Cheyne Hayes added seven kills each. Chase Frishman finished with a match-high nine digs. Mike Brunsting had 53 assists, five digs and three blocks.
“It was a tough loss, but we fought until the end,” said Eberts about the match. “I’m proud of the guys. Everybody played well. We just came up a little bit short.”
Eberts, Frishman and Smith, the three seniors on UCSD head coach Kevin Ring’s 2013 roster, were recognized prior to first serve for their career contributions to the Triton program.
Summed up Eberts about his five years as a Triton, “I came in and redshirted my freshman year. I worked hard in practice the next season and got a shot (to get on the court). I went after it every opportunity I got, and enjoyed my time here playing with my teammates and getting better in the practice gym.”
For UH, sophomore outside hitter Brook Sedore put down a remarkable 31 kills on the night, the second-highest total in the MPSF this season. No other Warrior had more than nine in the contest. Sedore led the team with eight digs as well and contributed six blocks. Taylor Averill wound up with nine kills and seven blocks.
The opening set was the tightest affair of the night, featuring 17 tie scores and six lead changes. A run of four straight Triton points, with back-to-back Eberts aces sandwiched in the middle, turned a 12-10 deficit into a 14-12 lead. With the score knotted one final time at 25-25, consecutive mis-hits by Sedore gave UCSD the win.
The Warriors moved out to a 4-1 lead in the second stanza, with a later advantage of 11-7 forcing the first Triton timeout. UCSD came out of that break with three points in a row to close to 11-10, Smith providing a kill and combining on a block with Awerkamp ahead of a UH attack error. Five straight Hawai’i points upped the bulge to 16-10, however, with the visitors barely hanging on from there.
A big solo block by Eberts on Sedore made it 12-10 in favor of the Tritons in the third set. Moments later, Eberts teamed with Brady to deny Sedore again for 14-11. UCSD went up by as many as eight at 21-13 before closing it out on a Brady kill.
Nursing a tenuous 20-19 edge in the fourth, UH got a kill and a solo block by Sedore on consecutive points as the Tritons called for time. Brady and Sedore traded two kills apiece until another solo block by Sedore, this one on Brady, forced the decider.
Eberts snuffed out a Sedore attack for a 3-2 UCSD edge early in that fifth frame, but it was Hawai’i that reached the side change on top, 8-6. A solo block by Nick West gave the Warriors a sizeable lead. Though the Tritons twice inched back to within one at 9-8 and 10-9, the latter time courtesy of a Lennon kill, a service error and triple block by Sedore, Joby Ramos and Davis Holt maintained control for UH.
Triton Notes: UH leads the all-time series, 45-4, though the teams had split the previous eight meetings since 2009 prior to the Warriors’ two-match sweep this weekend … The Tritons finished 3-5 in five-set matches in 2013 … With 10 more kills, Carl Eberts finished his career with 1,044, fifth-most all-time at UCSD … Eberts turned in the 56th performance of his career with double-digit kills, and team-best 17th this season … Eberts is also fifth in attacks (2,500), seventh in digs (507) and tied for eighth in service aces (59) … Chase Frishman added nine more digs to conclude his Triton days with 674 in all, second-most in program history … The nine digs also gave him a single-season career-best 219 digs for 2013, bettering his 210 from 2012 … Vaun Lennon achieved a double-digit kills total for the seventh time this season and first since Jan. 30 … He now has 22 such matches for his career … Greg Smith reached double figures in kills for the third time this season and fifth time as a Triton … Sebastian Brady produced 10-more kills for the second time this season and first since the Jan. 4 opener vs. Lewis … He now has seven career matches with double-digit kills … UCSD put four players in double-figure kills for the second time this season, bookending 2013 after having done the same in the opener with Lewis on Jan. 4 through the identical foursome of Eberts, Smith, Brady and Lennon.
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