With its fourth loss in the past five matches, UCSD dropped to 4-7 overall and 2-5 in the MPSF. UC Santa Barbara, alone in last-place in the 13-team MPSF at the start of the night, snapped its six-match funk in improving to an identical 4-7 overall and 2-5 in conference play.
Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Nick Iorfino put down a match- and career-high 19 kills on 40 attempts (.325), and added seven digs, but it wasn't quite enough as the Tritons surrendered tight frames in the first and third around a second-set victory in which they hit .483 as a team.
Joining Iorfino in double digits offensively were Cheyne Hayes and Carl Eberts with 14 and 12 kills, respectively. Chase Frishman produced a team-best eight digs, while junior middle Fred Stahl matched his career high with seven total blocks.
"Game one was real close tonight," remarked UCSD head coach Kevin Ring. "You want to continue to put yourself in a position to win games late. I thought we did that, but unfortunately, we came out on the wrong side of that first game. What I really liked about game two, is that it proved to be the same thing. Another real close game, tight game late, to be able to go out and win it, that's some progress.
"We had a match earlier in the year, when we played Northridge (at home on Jan. 25), two close games (to begin the match), but we lost both of those. Tonight, we made a little progress. Close one, lost game one. Close one, found a way to win game two. Game three, that's the crucial one right there, to take that advantage, and we didn't get it done.
"I thought it wasn't in any one area (that led to the defeat). It's just a few things we need to get better at, a couple of passes at key times, being able to run our middles. We're not running them effectively right now, or very efficiently."
The first set was knotted a sixth and final time at 26-26 before back-to-back hitting errors by the Tritons put the host Gauchos on top. In fact, UCSB notched the final three points of the frame after a Hayes kill denied a set point and a combo block by Eberts and Sebastian Brady edged UCSD ahead at 26-25. A solo block by Iorfino had given the Tritons two set points at 24-22 just moments earlier, but a pair of awry attacks, also from Iorfino, then tied it up.
UCSD took the game-two lead for good at 13-12 on a Gaucho service error and held on the rest of the way, a kill by setter Garrett Dempsey making it 1-1.
The Tritons earned a set point in the third stanza as well, at 24-23 on a Hayes kill, but a Hayes service error denied the chance, and UCSB eventually pulled it out.
The lead never changed hands in game four, and the Gauchos led for the remainder after a Dylan Davis kill for 12-11. Davis finished with a team-high 14 kills.
UCSD remains on the road to take on No. 5 UCLA in Los Angeles on Saturday night. The Tritons will be making their debut at New Pauley Pavilion, with first serve set for 7 p.m. UCSD is 6-7 over its last 13 meetings with the perennial power Bruins.
Triton Notes: With 12 more kills tonight, Carl Eberts increased his career total to 879, ninth-most in program history, as he vies to become just the fifth Triton ever to reach the 1,000-kill plateau ... Eberts has 46 matches with 10-plus kills for his career, including seven this season ... With his team-high eight digs, Chase Frishman has 535 for his career, fifth-most all-time at UCSD ... Cheyne Hayes achieved a double-digit kills total for the fourth time in 2013 and fifth time in his career ... Nick Iorfino has seven matches with double-digit kills for his career and two this season, both coming over the last three contests.
-- UCSDtritons.com --