Near-Record Crowd Rocks RIMAC Arena for ESPN3 Debut vs. No. 7 UCLA
LA JOLLA, Calif. - A near-record crowd of 1,648 made for an electric atmosphere as it was treated to an exciting men's volleyball match that saw the University of California San Diego come out strong but ultimately fall in four sets to seventh-ranked UCLA Friday night at RIMAC Arena.
Scores of the non-conference contest were 20-25, 25-17, 25-15, and 25-23 in favor of the visiting Bruins. UC San Diego fell to 2-5 on the season and UCLA improved to 6-2. It was the home opener for the Tritons.
UC San Diego hit .289 (36-12-83), its second-highest percentage of the season, while UCLA countered at .449 (52-12-89). The Tritons held a 4.5 to 4.0 advantage in blocks, while the Bruins led 28-19 in digs. UCLA sided out at 71 percent and UC San Diego finished at 62 percent.
Individually, Wyatt Harrison paced the Tritons with 15.5 points on 13 kills, two aces, and a block while hitting .478. Vlad Pesic finished with 11.5 points and hit a stellar .500 with 10 kills and a single error in 18 attack attempts. Xander Jimenez had five kills to go along with team-highs of three blocks (one solo) and seven digs and setter Connor Walbrecht totaled 25 assists.
The match saw 21 total tie scores, 17 of those coming in the fourth set.
UC San Diego came out firing, hitting .600, the best of the match, in the opening set. The Tritons registered 12 kills with no errors in 20 attacks and sided out at 80 percent.
After falling to .217 in the second frame and -.048 in the third, UC San Diego rebounded to hit .421 in the fourth set, which had six lead changes. A Bruin service error and a double block by Jimenez and Logan Clark put the Tritons up 21-19. UCLA then scored three straight times on back-to-back kills and an ace to retake the lead, 22-21. After trading points, UC San Diego drew even at 23-23 on an attack error by the Bruins. However, UCLA closed out the match with kills by Brandon Rattray and Austin Matautia.
Rattray led all players with 25 points, the majority coming from 21 kills. He hit .576 and also contributed three aces, four digs, and two blocks.
Friday's crowd was the second-largest for a men's volleyball match at UC San Diego since the program moved into the NCAA Division II ranks for the 2001 season. RIMAC Arena hosted 1,689 fans on March 2, 2013, when the Tritons went up against BYU.
Also adding to the excitement Friday was the fact that the match was broadcast live on ESPN3, a first for UC San Diego. The team's remaining 12 home matches will also be carried live by the outlet.
UC San Diego and UCLA met in Los Angeles on January 5 with the Bruins earning a 3-1 victory in that match-up as well.
The Tritons host another non-league opponent in Grand Canyon (6-3) on Saturday, January 26, at 5 p.m. The 'Lopes defeated St. Katherine, 3-1, Friday in San Marcos.
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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