MALIBU, Calif. - The UC San Diego men's volleyball team has had a knack of breaking records and personal bests this season against Pepperdine, and Saturday's match continued the trend as the No. 15 Tritons upset the 11th-ranked Waves in a five-set thriller at Firestone Fieldhouse.
UCSD (7-15, 4-12 MPSF) won the first two sets by scores of 25-22 and 38-36, but Pepperdine (6-11, 4-11 MPSF) picked up some momentum and won the next two, 25-20 and 25-22. The Tritons came from behind to take the fifth and deciding set, 17-15. The win snapped a seven-match losing slide for UC San Diego.
"This was a great win for the team, the guys deserve it," said UCSD head coach Kevin Ring. "We had our ups and downs, but they never quit."
The match lasted one minute under two and a half hours.
Outside hitter Carl Eberts set a new career-high with 22 kills and posted his second career double-double by adding 10 digs. His kill total was also a match best. A couple more career highs were set by freshmen as outside Nick Iorfino had 16 kills and setter Mike Brunsting finished with 14. Middle blocker Calvin Ross also recorded a double-digit kill total with 13 and hit .632 (13-1-19). Brunsting, Ross and freshman middle Sebastian Brady all had five blocks and setter Phil Bannan totaled 66 assists.
For the Waves, Beau Vandeweghe led with 19 kills and eight digs. Cory Riecks had 14 kills while Matt Pollock and Tyler Jaynes had nine and eight blocks, respectively.
Both teams posted solid block totals, with Pepperdine totaling 17.5 and UCSD 12. The Tritons out-hit the Waves .265 (75-35-151) to .223 (61-28-148). UCSD made 21 errors at the service line.
"I thought we got off to a good start and played a decent first game," said Ring. "Game two was critical in the long run. It was a battle down the stretch and the win really gave us a cushion."
After hitting .312 in the third frame, the Tritons dropped all the way down to .042 in the fourth set, not a number one wants to see when heading into a fifth set.
"We played pretty well in game three, but once we got to game four, we became tentative," said Ring. "We missed a bunch of serves and our offensive numbers were down."
Down 14-11 in the final set, UCSD shrugged off three match points with a Ross kill and a pair of Pepperdine attack errors. Riecks got the next kill, putting the Waves up 15-14. The Tritons again tied it up on another kill by Ross and won the next two points and the match with a block by Bannan and Ross and a final attack error by Pepperdine.
"In the last set, we found the match-ups that worked for us," said Ring. "We made some big time plays to tie it up and go on to win."
Pepperdine defeated UCSD, 3-1, at RIMAC Arena back on Feb. 4. Despite the defeat, three school records fell that night. Bannan became UC San Diego's all-time leader in assists and aces, while Ross took over the top spot on the career blocks list. It's been an interesting two seasons against Pepperdine. Until last season, the Tritons had never defeated the Waves, but they ended up winning both match-ups in 2010.
UCSD is off for finals until Mar. 24 when it hosts Ohio State in a non-conference match at 7 p.m.
- ucsdtritons.com -