PROVO, Utah - Mike Brunsting led all players with 11 kills and eight digs but it wasn't enough as UC San Diego was swept by third-ranked BYU in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) men's volleyball action Saturday night in front of 3,157 fans at Smith Fieldhouse.
Scores of the match went 25-15, 25-21 and 25-15 in favor of BYU, which won its 20th consecutive contest in Provo.
UCSD, which was coming off its first MPSF win of the season Thursday, fell to 2-19 overall and 1-18 in conference play. The Cougars, in first place in the MPSF, improved to 14-4 on the year and 14-2 in the league.
"Heading into a match against a team of this caliber, we knew there were going to be challenges," said UCSD head coach Kevin Ring. "BYU is a very good serving team and they have several dynamic attackers. Our goal was to pressure them. I felt like we did that in spurts, but not enough to close out any one set."
Brunsting hit .292 (11-4-24) and added a block assist. Johl Awerkamp had eight kills, while Scot Metzger added seven. Fred Stahl hit .444 with five kills and a single error in nine swings and Garrett Dempsey amassed a match-best 31 assists while adding six digs.
For the Cougars, Taylor Sander was potent, hitting .556 with 10 kills and no errors in 18 swings. Phil Fuchs and Jaylen Rayes each had six digs. Joe Grosh finished with two aces and four block assists, while Devin Young totaled eight points on five kills, two aces and two block assists.
BYU hit .453 with 40 kills and six errors in 75 attacks. UCSD swung at .238 (35-15-84). The Cougars held an 8-1 advantage in blocks and had five service aces while the Tritons had none with 11 errors at the line.
The opening set was back-and-forth early as the two teams traded points up to 6-6. Two straight hitting errors by the Tritons, one that included a double block by the Cougars, put BYU up 8-6 and it would not trail again. UCSD was back within a point at 11-10, but BYU claimed nine of the next 11 points and led 20-12. Fuchs had four kills during the stretch.
The Cougars sided out at 100 percent in the set.
"We got off to a good start, but as they started scoring points off their serve, we didn't match them," said Ring. "We missed a couple of opportunites in transition to score points that would have kept it close."
The Tritons hit .367 (14-3-30), their highest percentage of the night, in the second set. They were able to keep it close the whole way, but never gained a lead throughout the stanza. It was tied on nine occasions, the final time at 21-21 when Metzger put down a kill. However, the Cougars went on a 4-0 run to close out the set.
BYU hit a match-high .556 (11-1-18) in the third frame. Once again, it was close early, with the Tritons holding an edge up until 6-5. The Cougars then scored seven of the next eight points and held onto the lead through the rest of the set. Following back-to-back points by UC San Diego, BYU tallied four straight to put the Cougars up 16-9.
BYU remains the lone MPSF team that UCSD has never defeated, falling in all 36 meetings.
It was the last road match of the season for UCSD. Following an off week for winter quarter final exams, the Tritons will play six straight matches in La Jolla to finish out the regular season. The homestand starts on Thursday, March 27, against Long Beach State (7 p.m.).