LA JOLLA, Calif. - The UC San Diego men's volleyball team's season came to a close Saturday as the 12th-ranked Tritons were defeated in straight sets by No. 2 UC Irvine at RIMAC Arena. Scores were 25-19, 25-16 and 25-20.
UCSD finished the year with a 9-19 overall record and a 6-16 mark in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), good for ninth place - just one spot out of qualifying for the MPSF Tournament. UCI, which will face UCLA in a league tournament quarterfinal next week, is 21-5 overall and finished in a three-way tie for second place with a 17-5 MPSF mark.
The Anteaters were dominant offensively, hitting .436 with 43 kills and just nine errors in 78 attacks. They swung at .542 in the opening set and .550 in the third set, posting just two errors in each frame. UCI out-blocked the Tritons 11-3 and sided-out 80% of the time.
UC San Diego attacked at .136 with 27 kills and 16 errors in 81 attempts. The Tritons hit over .230 in sets one and three, but faltered in the middle set and hit -.069. They had 11 service errors compared to 16 for UC Irvine.
Individually, Carl Eberts led UCSD in the kills column with seven. Cheyne Hayes followed with six while Sebastian Brady and Vaun Lennon each had five. Fred Stahl hit .600 with three kills and no errors in five attacks. Lennon and Chase Frishman each had a team-high five digs while Eberts and Hayes both had four scoops.
UCI had two players with 10 or more kills as Kevin Tillie led all with 13 and Carson Clark was close behind with 11. Both hit .435 or better for the match. Dan McDonnell posted a .778 attack with eight kills and a single error in nine swings while adding six blocks. Setter Chris Austin finished with 36 assists and seven block assists and Connor Hughes had a match-high nine digs.
The Tritons won the first point of the match on a Stahl kill, but a three-point run by the Anteaters put them up 3-1 and they would not trail again in the set. A kill by Eberts got UCSD within three points at 21-18, but Irvine won four of the next five points to close out the opening set.
In the second set, UCSD again won the first point, this time on a rare attack error by UCI. An early three-point run by the Tritons put them up 4-1 and they held the lead until the Anteaters scored three straight times to even it at 7-7, two of those points coming from McDonnell blocks. However, UC San Diego quickly gained the lead back and held a 14-11 advantage after UC Irvine had three consecutive serve errors. Unfortunately for UCSD, that would be the end of the errors by the Anteaters for a while as they reeled off seven consecutive points to go up 18-14. Hughes served six of the points, which included back-to-back-to-back blocks with Austin and Scott Kevorken in on all three of them. At 19-16, UCI tallied six straight unanswered points to win the set and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
The final set saw the teams trade the first two points with the next three going to the Anteaters, who would not trail or allow the score to even up for the rest of the set. Hayes had a kill to get UCSD back within a deuce at 19-17, but Irvine scored six of the next nine points to finish the match.
The Tritons won six of their final nine matches to bring the season to a close. They won an unprecedented five straight for the first time since 1990, prior to joining the MPSF.
- UCSDtritons.com -