LA JOLLA, Calif. - A huge night in the serving and blocking departments led No. 14 UCSD to a 3-1 upset over No. 3 Ohio State in non-conference men's volleyball action Thursday at RIMAC Arena.
Scores went 21-25, 25-22, 25-22 and 28-26 in favor of the Tritons, who improved to 8-15 on the season. The Buckeyes dropped to 17-3 overall. The win snapped Ohio State's 17-match win streak.
UCSD finished with 11 service aces and 16.5 blocks, both season highs. In contrast, Ohio State had five aces and four blocks. Seven different Tritons had at least one block and six had at least one ace in the match. Both squads hit under .300 as UCSD swung at a .244 (48-17-127) clip and Ohio State hit .240 (55-24-129).
Entering tonight's match, the Tritons hadn't played since March 12 as the team was off for exams last week.
"You never know, when you've had that long of a break, how you're gonna come back, it's a little bit of a mystery," said UCSD head coach Kevin Ring. "I thought we had a real good week of practice, I thought we were competitive. That was at least a good sign for me. Tonight we came in, got it going a little bit, and played a real nice match."
Once again, outside hitter Carl Eberts led the Tritons in kills, this time with 14. He added an ace, six digs and six blocks and ended his night with 19 points. He's now recorded 10 or more kills in 14 of his last 16 matches played.
Triton setter Phil Bannan, the school's all-time leader in aces, added three more to his list. He also had 41 assists, nine digs and five blocks. Bannan has 42 aces this year, the second most in a single season at UCSD. Eric Mai holds the school record with 54 in 1997.
For Ohio State, outside John Klanac led all players with a career-high 24 kills. Mik Berzins, also an outside hitter, followed with 13 while setter Steven Kehoe dug 13 balls and rang up 44 assists.
The fourth set was a nail-biting roller coaster ride that at times had fans settling in for a fifth set and at other times had them ready to celebrate a Triton victory. UCSD started slowly and OSU ran out to a 5-1 lead. The Buckeyes upped the margin to as many as six points before the Tritons started their first comeback. Down 12-7, UC San Diego went on a 6-0 run to take a 13-12 lead. Eberts had two kills and a block in the run. However, Ohio State went back up, 15-14, on a kill by Kevin Heine. The Buckeyes continued on to a four-point lead at 19-15 on a UCSD attack error. Following a timeout, the Tritons began their second comeback with three consecutive points on a Ross kill, a Bannan block and an ace from Veiga to make it 19-18 in favor of OSU. UCSD tied it up at 20-20 and then took a lead at 23-22 on a hitting error by Ohio State. The Tritons had three match points turned aside by the Buckeyes before finally capping the win. At 26-26, Davidson had a kill and Bannan and Ross combined for a booming block to end the match.
"I thought Phil Bannan, and Shane (Veiga) a couple of times, along with our middles did a real nice job shutting down their left-side guys," said Ring. "We even had a good presence against their middles. I thought we had a good read on what they were doing."
UCSD started off sluggishly in the first set. The team had just one of its blocks in the set and hit .219 to OSU's .433.
Both teams had their worst attacking numbers of the night in the second set. Ohio State held a slight advantage, hitting .097 to UCSD's .000. However, the set featured 13 tie scores and six lead changes. It was even for the final time at 21-21 before the Tritons won four of the next five points to take the set.
UCSD posted its best hitting mark of the night in the third set at .353. A Davidson block gave the Tritons a 9-8 lead and they never trailed again. Their biggest lead was six at 19-13.
All three of OSU's losses this season have come against a pair of MPSF teams - UCSD and Pepperdine. The Tritons now hold a 3-2 edge in the all-time series against the Buckeyes. OSU won twice in Columbus in 2006 and UCSD won twice in La Jolla in 2003.
The last time UCSD beat a team ranked as high as third was April 17, 2010, when the Tritons took down No. 3 Pepperdine in the final match of the season.
This season, the Tritons have upset wins over No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Stanford, No. 7 UC Irvine, No. 11 Hawai'i and No. 11 Pepperdine (rankings at time of match are listed).
UCSD hosts a big MPSF match Saturday, Mar. 26 as No. 7 UCLA visits La Jolla. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. at RIMAC Arena. Tickets are available at the door. UCSD students are admitted free with a valid ID.