PROVO, Utah - The No. 13 UC San Diego men's volleyball team came back from two sets down, but lost, 3-2, Thursday against second-ranked Brigham Young in front of 1,532 at the Smith Fieldhouse. Carl Eberts put down a career-high 17 kills and freshman Sebastian Brady set a new career-best with 15 for the Tritons, who made some history in the loss.
Scores of the match were 25-22, 25-21, 23-25, 29-31 and 15-12 in favor of BYU (12-4, 8-3)
Brigham Young remains the lone current MPSF team that UCSD (6-11, 3-8) has never beaten. It was the first time that the Tritons had ever won more than one set against the Cougars. Since 2000, UCSD had won a total of six sets against the Cougars, two in Provo (2007, 2003) and four in La Jolla (2010, 2008, 2004, 2002).
"It was a really good fight, especially being down two games to zero," said UCSD head coach Kevin Ring. "To
step into someone else's gym, you're on the road in the MPSF, and to have
a competitive match like that, that's what you want to do - you put yourself in
position to win."
Both teams matched up well as BYU hit .308 and UCSD swung at .298. Service aces were even at two apiece, dig totals differed by just one and blocks were 15-13.5 for the Cougars. One spot where both teams struggled was the service line. BYU made 26 serve errors, giving away more than a full set worth of points to the Tritons, who made 23 miscues of their own.
"We made some serves early, but we need to cut down on errors," said Ring. "But at the same time, if you serve too easy, they're siding out."
The Cougars came out strong, hitting .476 in the first set and .400 in the second. However, it was all downhill from there and BYU ended up hitting a match-low .188 in the fifth set.
UCSD hit under .300 in four of five sets, but dominated in the third set, turning momentum its way with a .417 attack percentage. The Tritons made just one error in the set.
"We tried to put pressure on them with our serve, and once we started
doing that, we started blocking a lot better," said Ring.
For Eberts, it was the eighth time in his last nine matches that he finished with a double-digit kill total. His previous career-best was 15, which he's done three times this season.
It was the first time Brady has had more than 10 kills in a match. A true freshman, his previous high was nine. Brady hit .591 from the middle with an ace, four blocks and a career-high 18.5 points.
Outside hitter Joel Davidson finished with 13 kills, while setter Phil Bannan totaled 52 assists and seven blocks. Middle Calvin Ross had six kills and six blocks.
Five Tritons had five digs each, including Davidson, Eberts, Mike Brunsting, Chase Frishman and Mike Sierks.
On the other side of the net, six-foot-seven opposite Rob Stowell was a powerhouse, leading all players with a season-high 23 kills. He also had five digs, three blocks and a match-high 24.5 points. Stowell was followed by Kevin Sagers with 14 kills. Joe Kauliakamoa had a season-high 60 assists to go along with eight digs and seven blocks. Middle Futi Tavana, who leads the nation in blocking, registered eight on the night.
"In game five, we had some free balls that they converted and that was
costly," said Ring. "We're gonna come back tomorrow night and have to find a way to
get it going again. I was pretty proud of the team overall tonight."
It was just the second five-set match of the season for UCSD, which upset Hawai'i in five on Jan. 28. The Tritons are looking for their fourth upset of the year as they have already defeated No. 4 Stanford and No. 7 UC Irvine to go along with No. 11 Hawai'i.
BYU is undefeated in five home matches this season.
The two squads play again Friday in a 6 p.m. (PT) match at Smith Fieldhouse. A live video and audio feed is available through BYUtv and the match will also be covered by Gametracker.
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