LOS ANGELES - UC San Diego suffered a 3-0 defeat to No. 5 UCLA in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) men’s volleyball match at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday night. Scores were 25-18, 25-21, 25-15.
UCSD (1-18, 0-17 MPSF) was out-hit in the contest, .414-.079, and out-blocked, 12.0-3.5. In snapping a three-match losing skid, UCLA (14-6, 11-5 MPSF) completed its sweep of the 2014 season series between the teams, having also won in three sets in La Jolla on Jan. 30. The Bruins have taken five straight match-ups.
Johl Awerkamp had team highs of six kills and three block assists for UCSD, while fellow senior Mike Brunsting (Poway/Francis Parker School) and redshirt junior Scot Metzger added five kills apiece. Junior setter Garrett Dempsey finished with 22 assists and five digs. Brunsting and libero Tanner Howard also had five digs.
Robart Page put down a match-high 12 kills for the hosts. Gonzalo Quiroga and Jackson Bantle provided nine kills each, while Quiroga accounted for all four of UCLA’s service aces. Hagen Smith contributed 32 assists and nine digs from his setter position. Mitch Stahl’s seven block assists led all players at the net.
“UCLA’s aggressive serving gave us passing trouble throughout the match. Our challenge is two-fold. One, improve our serve receive against top-level servers, and two, manage better-quality swings even when out of system.
“Scot Metzger did a nice job of steadying out our passing game and Fred Stahl was good at the net as he came up with a couple of block assists and hit .500 on six swings. Mike Brunsting, playing his third position of the season, continues to be a key performer for us.”
Brunsting began the season as Ring’s starting setter and as such, is No. 8 on the all-time program chart in career assists. He moved to opposite hitter after Awerkamp went down with a long-term injury on Jan. 18, and shifted again to outside hitter this weekend following Awerkamp’s return.
UCSD hung with the Bruins early in Saturday’s opening set. The Tritons tallied the first two points before UCLA tied it at 2-2. The teams traded points until the home side drew level one final time at 7-7. That’s when Quiroga stepped up to the service line. Within moments, it was 11-7 Bruins after an attack error and three aces.
UCLA was up 17-9 in game number two before UCSD staged a late rally, with runs of five of six points and later three in a row forcing UCLA and U.S. men’s national team head coach John Speraw’s first timeout of the evening, ahead by just two at 21-19. The Bruins were able to hang on, getting a Page kill on set point.
Separate 4-0 and 5-0 runs in the final stanza made it 6-3 and 15-9. Consecutive stuff blocks by Bantle and Stahl brought about Ring’s first timeout of the set at 13-9. Kills by Quiroga, Bantle and Stahl on match point put a capper on it.
UCSD had one triple block, in the third, through Awerkamp, Metzger and Stahl. That came right after Awerkamp and Stahl had teamed up to turn back Bantle. Bantle, Page and Mitch Stahl early in the first set (2-2) and then Bantle, Page and Spencer Rowe early in the second (5-2), gave the Bruins a pair of triple blocks.
UCSD rounds out the 2014 season with seven of its last eight at home inside RIMAC Arena. The Tritons host California Baptist at 7 p.m. this Thursday, March 13.