LA JOLLA, Calif. - Despite 30 kills from Johl Awerkamp in his first match of the season, the UC San Diego men’s volleyball team suffered a tough five-set loss against Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) rival University of the Pacific Friday night at RIMAC Arena.
Set scores were 17-25, 25-19, 34-36, 26-24 and 15-9 in a second successive five-set loss for the Tritons.
UCSD fell to 7-19 overall and 4-17 in MPSF play, while UOP upped its records to 8-17 and 5-16. The Tigers swept the season series between the sides for a third year in a row, having previously won 3-1 in Stockton on Feb. 8.
Triton setter Mike Brunsting amassed a personal-best 64 assists on the night, a single-match high in the MPSF this season. The junior added four kills, one ace, three digs and four blocks.
Fellow junior Awerkamp’s match- and career-high 30 kills also marked a single-match best by a UCSD player in 2013. Carl Eberts had produced 22 kills in a five-set home win over Cal Baptist on Jan. 17. It was the most kills by a Triton since Frank Fritsch totaled 33 in a 3-1 home win over Hawai’i on Mar. 13, 2009. A native of Mission Viejo, Awerkamp collected his first 17 kills without an error. For the night, he hit .414 (30-6-58).
Eberts joined Awerkamp in double figures with 14 kills to go along with eight digs. Sebastian Brady and Nick Iorfino contributed nine kills apiece while senior libero Chase Frishman had 14 digs to share the match high.
Matthew Houlihan (20 kills), Adam Troy (17) and Taylor Hughes (16) paced Pacific offensively. Hughes and Troy both achieved double-doubles with 14 and 10 digs, respectively.
The Tritons hit .643 (20-2-28) in the opening set to cruise to the eight-point win. It was their most efficient game this season, bettering a .630 clip (20-3-27) from game four of a 3-2 home victory over Cal Baptist on Jan. 17.
Tied at one set apiece, the marathon third stanza featured 18 tie scores and seven lead changes. UCSD was left staring at a pair of set points, down 24-22, when an Awerkamp kill and Tiger error around a UOP timeout leveled the score. A solo block by Brunsting on Hughes gave UCSD its first set point at 25-24.
Another Awerkamp kill fended off a sixth Pacific set point and tied the score one final time at 34-34 before back-to-back Vaun Lennon kills on Eberts serves won it for the Tritons.
The fourth frame was a tight affair as well with 16 deadlocks and the advantage changing hands on six occasions. All square at 23-23, a UOP service error gave UCSD match point. Moments later, however, a Hughes kill and a combo block by Hughes and Marty Ross on Awerkamp pushed set point over to the Tigers and forced a UCSD timeout. Ross’ kill brought on the decider.
Pacific was the stronger side in that final game, hitting a match-best .600 (10-1-15). A pair of 5-0 runs earned the Tigers considerable cushions at 5-1 and 11-4, the latter too big for the Tritons to overcome. Troy had five kills, an ace and a block assist.
The Tritons play host to eighth-ranked Stanford on Saturday night, Apr. 6. First serve at RIMAC Arena is set for 7 p.m.
Triton Notes: UCSD is now 3-4 in five-set matches in 2013 … Both UCSD and Pacific had already been eliminated from contention for a berth into the 2013 MPSF Tournament heading into the weekend … The Tritons have lost six straight to UOP since 2011 after winning six straight meetings from 2008-10 … The 36-34 third set was the longest in the MPSF this year … Johl Awerkamp now has 11 matches with double-figure kills as a Triton, coming over his last 11 appearances … Carl Eberts turned in the 54th performance of his career with double-digit kills, and team-leading 15th this season … With his 14 kills tonight, Eberts increased his career total to 1,016, fifth-most in program history … Chase Frishman’s season-high 14 digs increased his career total to 649, second-most in the program record book … It was Frishman’s eighth match this season with double-figure digs and 25th of his career … UCSD hit .363 on the night, its second-best percentage of the season (.376, Feb. 15 vs. UC Santa Barbara).
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