MALIBU, Calif. - UC San Diego was downed in straight sets by sixth-ranked Pepperdine in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) men’s volleyball action at the Firestone Fieldhouse on Saturday night. Scores were 25-17, 25-19, 25-17.
With the loss, UCSD dropped to 0-3 overall and 0-2 in MPSF play. Pepperdine, coming off of a 3-1 home win over two-time defending national champion UC Irvine in its 2014 opener on Friday night, improved to 2-0 overall and 2-0 in league action.
A four-point run gave the Waves the early 6-2 lead in the first set, and that bulge moved to seven at 17-10 when UCSD used its second timeout. Pepperdine was not threatened from there. The teams combined for 10 service errors in that opener, with four by the Tritons.
The Waves jumped out again in the second to a 5-2 lead. Josh Taylor accounted for four straight Pepperdine points with kills, around UCSD kills by Ian Colbert and Ganesh Elie, leaving the home side up by four at 10-6. The Tritons climbed to within one at 12-11 on a stuff block by Elie and Johl Awerkamp, and then again at 19-18 on a solo block by Elie, before evening it at 19-19 on a Colbert kill to force Pepperdine’s first timeout of the contest. Freshman Griffin Galvin served those last two points.
The hosts answered by tallying the next six points, however, to take the set. J.J. Mosolf entered the match for the first time and contributed a kill and three block assists during the decisive stretch.
Back-to-back Nick Iorfino kills and a Pepperdine attack error made it 9-8 in favor of the Waves in the third set. Three straight points later, on a service error and successive stuff blocks, gave the hosts a significant advantage at 18-13 before UCSD called for time. From there, the Waves closed out their fifth straight victory over the Tritons dating back to the 2011 season, with four sweeps in a row now.
Awerkamp put together his 13th career match in double-figure kills and first of 2014, compiling a team-high 11. Iorfino added eight kills. Junior setter Garrett Dempsey came off the bench for 25 assists and a team-best six digs.
For Pepperdine, Taylor and Parker Kalmbach had 14 and 12 kills, respectively, with the latter player also coming up with five digs and four blocks. Setter Matt West wound up with 35 assists and a match-high 10 digs to go with four blocks, while Matt Tarantino got his hands to seven blocks to lead all players.
“Pepperdine sided out very well tonight, so we needed to have better offensive production, especially on our first swing in serve receive, to keep us in the games,” said ninth-year Triton head coach Kevin Ring. “Each game, we found a way to string together some good plays and close the gap in the score, but never found the means to pull ahead.
“We’ve opened the MPSF season with two very good teams in USC and Pepperdine. For us, it is a matter of getting comfortable competing night in and night out, and the ability to play good, solid volleyball from start to finish. Each game we’ve played in has had bright spots. As we become more consistent, we’ll begin to win the close games.”
UCSD plays at MPSF foe California Baptist in Riverside this Thursday night, Jan. 16, before finally contesting its home opener inside RIMAC Arena on Saturday, Jan. 18, against 2013 national runner-up BYU. First serve for both matches is set for 7 p.m.