Photo by: Scott Flanders
Wyatt Harrison led UC San Diego with 16.5 points Friday.

Tritons Get First Win in Sweeping Fashion at Sacred Heart

UC San Diego

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FAIRFIELD, Conn. - Wyatt Harrison put down a match-high 15 kills and the University of California San Diego men's volleyball team totaled 11 blocks as it earned its first victory of the young season Friday, a 3-0 sweep of non-conference opponent Sacred Heart in Connecticut.

Set scores from the Pitt Center were 30-28, 25-16, and 25-22. UC San Diego moved to 1-2 on the season. It was SHU's first match of the year.

The Tritons attacked at a season-high .322 with 39 kills and 11 errors in 87 attempts. It was their best hitting percentage since March of 2018 when they swung at .342 in a victory against USC.

Solid at the net, UC San Diego out-blocked Sacred Heart 11-1. The Tritons also aced the Pioneers eight times.

"It was great to get the win today," said 14th-year head coach Kevin Ring. "It's still early in the season, so it was nice to see the guys fight start to finish and close it out."

Harrison hit .500, committing just three errors in 24 attack attempts. The sophomore outside hitter also added two digs, an ace, and a block.

Sophomore opposite Collin Shannon finished with 12.5 points on eight kills, five block assists, and two aces while also contributing a team-best four digs. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Vlad Pesic turned in an efficient offensive performance, hitting .700 with seven kills and zero errors in 10 swings. He also had five block assists, as did freshman middle Shane Benetz.

Two Tritons split setting duties. Freshman Berkeley Miesfeld (La Jolla/La Jolla HS) amassed 17 assists and junior Connor Walbrecht totaled 13. Miesfeld dropped in three aces, all coming in a row in the opening set. 

With the Pioneers ahead 28-27 in the first frame, the Tritons reeled off three consecutive points on a service error by SHU, an ace by Walbrecht, and a double block from Benetz and Shannon that gave the set to UC San Diego.

"The offense was a little stagnant in set one," said Ring. "We had to come back to win it and I think that really set the tone and gave us more confidence heading into set two."

An early four-point run in the second set put the Tritons up 9-7 and they stayed in front the rest of the way. At 19-16, they scored six straight times to win and go up 2-0 in the match. Redshirt junior outside hitter Xander Jimenez had a kill and a solo block during the run, while Harrison had a kill and an ace.

"We found ourselves down by a few points and had to play catch-up," said Ring. "I challenged the guys to tie it up and they did and we pulled ahead from there."

The third set saw UC San Diego down for the first half. The Tritons' first lead came when an ace by sophomore opposite Bryce Curtis made it 17-16. At 22-22, the visitors closed out the match with three unanswered points, all on errors by the Pioneers, one of which came with blocks by Pesic and Walbrecht.

"We fell behind early again, but we steadied the ship and played some really solid volleyball down the stretch," said Ring.

Sacred Heart got 12 kills from Emerson Waumans and a match-high 11 digs from Zak Kakos. The Pioneers out-dug the Tritons 31-14.

Sacred Heart is out of the eight-team Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) and was picked to finish eighth this season after going 7-15 overall and 2-12 in league play in 2018.

It was the first-ever meeting between the Tritons and Pioneers.

"We used a variety of guys in the lineup and it was really good to see the production from different players," said Ring. 

UC San Diego faces another squad for the first time Saturday as it squares off against Harvard (0-3) at 4 p.m. (PT) in Cambridge, Mass. The match can be followed on ESPN+ and with live stats.

About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles, and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in the summer of 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's pre-eminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.

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