LA JOLLA, Calif. - Top-ranked UCLA got past a spirited UC San Diego squad, 3-0, in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) men’s volleyball match Thursday night in front of 401 spectators at RIMAC Arena. Scores were 25-19, 25-18, 25-20.
UCSD (0-8, 0-7 MPSF) came out with added energy and played much better than it did in its home opener against BYU back on Jan. 18, but it wasn’t enough against UCLA (8-1, 5-0 MPSF), a winner now of eight straight since a season-opening defeat to Stanford in Santa Barbara on Jan. 4. It was a fourth three-set sweep in a row for the Bruins and a fourth successive victory over the Tritons dating back to 2012.
Seniors Nick Iorfino and Mike Brunsting (Poway/Francis Parker School) had 11 kills apiece for the Tritons. Brunsting played in a dual role between opposite and his natural setter position, adding eight assists to two aces and a team-high six digs.
Redshirt freshman middle Ganesh Elie contributed a career-high six kills on eight swings without an error (.750). True freshman Shayne Beamer made his college debut, appearing in all three games and notching his first career kill in the third.
Robart Page, the Bruins’ seven-foot outside hitter from New York, led all players with 15 kills to go along with three assists, one ace, six digs and three blocks. Setter Michael Beals had 34 assists and a match-high eight digs. Beals (3-0-3) was one of three Bruins with perfect attack rates, joining reserve Clayton Paullin (4-0-4) and senior starting middle Spencer Rowe (5-0-5), the older brother of UCSD women’s volleyball standout Sophie Rowe.
UCSD hit a season-best .302 (38-12-86) for the night, but was not effective at the net, as UCLA held a 7.5-1.0 advantage in total team blocks. The Bruins had a trio of triple blocks. The first by Rowe, Page and Michael Fisher gave them a 22-17 lead in the second. The other two came in the third, for a 13-7 bulge by Beals, Page and Trent Kersten, and again at 21-16 with Fisher, Page and Paullin combining.
The Tritons tallied the first two points of the night on a Brunsting kill and an attack error by Gonzalo Quiroga, UCLA’s No. 2 offensive weapon behind Page. Though the Bruins gradually took control, UCSD quieted Quiroga until the senior Argentinian produced his first kill of the match on set point.
Brunsting’s ace pulled UCSD within three at 13-10 in the second, but serving was still the Tritons’ undoing as they committed eight of their 12 errors in that frame.
Two kills and an ace, all by Brunsting, against a pair of Quiroga kills, left UCSD with a 3-2 edge early in a third set that had three lead changes and five tie scores. Triton tri-captain Scot Metzger entered as the server midway through and provided his second ace of the contest to give him a career high, and cut his team’s deficit to just one at 17-16. The visitors registered the next six points, however, to end any drama.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Tritons, who head back out for a seventh road test over their first nine matches this season, this time due north to Irvine on Friday, Jan. 31. UCSD takes on eighth-ranked two-time defending national champion UC Irvine at the Bren Events Center beginning at 7 p.m.