FULLERTON, Calif. - UC San Diego got a match-high 15 kills from senior outside hitter Carl Eberts en route to a 3-0 sweep over Hope International in a non-conference men's volleyball match at Darling Pavilion on Friday night. Set scores were 25-22, 25-20 and 25-23.
With the victory, UCSD improved to 6-11 overall on the year. Hope International, a member of the Mid-America Men's Volleyball Intercollegiate Conference (MAMVIC) and ranked No. 9 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), fell to an even 5-5.
"This was a good win for us tonight," said UCSD head coach Kevin Ring. "We've hit the halfway mark in our MPSF season and recommitted to the second half, so it was a good start tonight to come out and take care of business. We played very well in stretches. We certainly want to be a little more consistent from the service line, and with our serve and receive. I think our offense will come along in that area."
Eberts (six) and Sebastian Brady (five) combined for 11 kills in the opening set, hitting .400 (11-3-20). A run of seven straight points, six served by junior Mike Brunsting with three of them service aces, turned a 9-8 edge into a 16-8 bulge.
With UCSD later ahead by only one at 21-20, an HIU service error and attack error pushed the cushion back to a more-comfortable three, with Eberts giving the Tritons set point and Nick Iorfino putting the capper on the first frame.
Down 14-12 in the second set, the Tritons scored the next five points, with four of them again on Brunsting serves. Three of those points came on Eberts kills, with fellow senior Greg Smith also contributing a kill in the sequence and combining with Cheyne Hayes on a stuff block of the Royals' Torand Cheltenham.
An HIU attack error and Iorfino kill saw UCSD up 22-17 and forced the Royals' second timeout of the game. Kills by Brunsting and Eberts pushed the hosts to the brink and the Tritons took the commanding two-set lead on another Brunsting kill.
With the third set tied at 7-7, four straight Royal attack errors moved the Tritons ahead, 11-7, the latter two coming on combo blocks first by Eberts and Smith, and then Smith and Brunsting.
The back end of that third stanza was a back-and-forth affair that featured ties at 14-14, 15-15, 16-16, 17-17, 18-18, 19-19, 20-20, 21-21 and 22-22 before a Cheltenham kill necessitated a UCSD timeout with HIU sporting a 23-22 edge.
Coming out of the break, Brady's kill evened the score once more at 23-23, and a hitting miscue by Cheltenham put UCSD at match point as the home side called timeout. Another awry attack by Tim Shenkin gave the Tritons the sweep.
In addition to Eberts' numbers, Brady (nine kills), Iorfino (seven) and Smith (six), the latter off the bench, made solid contributions to the Triton offense. Brunsting wound up with 28 assists, eight digs, two kills, two blocks and a match-high three aces. Senior Chase Frishman had a team-high nine digs from his libero position.
"Carl Eberts had a nice night tonight with 15 kills," concluded Ring. "He paced our offense. Sebastian Brady was effective in the middle with nine kills, hitting .500, and Greg Smith did a great job coming in off the bench and hitting .750 on eight swings. That was key in getting some balance in our offense in games two and three."
Cheltenham had a team-high 14 kills for HIU, while Dominique Blonski joined him in double figures with 11 kills. Jared Shirai turned in the match high in digs with 12.
UCSD returns to conference activity a week from tonight, on Friday, March 1, playing at MPSF newcomer Cal Baptist. First serve in Riverside is set for 7 p.m.
Triton Notes: With tonight's result, UCSD remained perfect in the all-time series between the teams at 8-0, with seven of those victories coming via three-set sweeps ... With 15 more kills tonight, Carl Eberts increased his career total to 938, ninth-most in program history, as he vies to become just the fifth Triton ever to reach the 1,000-kill plateau ... Eberts turned in the 50th performance of his career with double-digit kills, and team-leading 11th this season ... Chase Frishman now has 577 digs for his career, fifth-most all-time at UCSD ... Mike Brunsting's three service aces were a season high, and one off his career high.
-- UCSDtritons.com --