After getting off to a 3–0 start, the UC San Diego men’s volleyball team encountered its first test early on in the season going up against UCLA on Tuesday night. As a result, UCLA handed UCSD its first loss of the season to put them at a 3–1 record after four games. The Tritons had a three-match week, playing UC Santa Cruz and Concordia Irvine on Friday and Saturday. UCSD bounced back well from the loss against UCLA, getting back-to-back wins to end the week and improve its record to 5–1. Saturday’s win against Concordia Irvine puts an end to the Tritons’ four-game home stand, the most consecutive games at home this season.
GAME v. UCLA
The Tritons had a tough task attempting to knock down the Bruins and were unable to succeed as UCLA took the match in straight sets with scores of 25–23, 25–18, and 25–18. A healthy crowd of 671 was in attendance on Tuesday night, and it was a competitive match throughout, especially in the first set.
In the first set of the match, the teams went back and forth, making runs with there being five tied scores in the set. The Tritons had the opportunity to take control of the match as they leveled the score at 23–23, however the Bruins came back with an answer of their own by scoring the ensuing two points to take the set.
As the match ended with identical score lines of 25–18 in the final two sets, the apparent firepower of UCLA seemed to take over the match, with the Bruins going on to lead the entire second set, taking real command of the match. Although the final set was a bit more competitive in terms of the Tritons keeping up in points, the Bruins were able to step their game up to ultimately put the match to bed.
GAME v. UC Santa Cruz
Coming off its first loss of the season, UCSD got back to its winning ways with little problem, dispatching UC Santa Cruz in straight sets, 25–15, 25–22, and 25–16. UCSC got off to an early lead in the first set; however, it did not take long for UCSD to get on top of the score after trailing 6–3. In the next few minutes, the Tritons went up 10–7 and took over the set from there.
The second set started similarly to the first as the Tritons would fall behind early, however the Banana Slugs would be more competitive throughout as they kept the set neck and neck until the end. The last tie score in the set would be 16–16 and from there UCSD kept just enough distance from its opponents to take the set. In the final set, the Tritons put up a much more commanding display as they put their opponents away much earlier than in the previous sets.
GAME v. Concordia Irvine
On Sunday night, Concordia Irvine was the next guest at RIMAC Arena and the Division II opponents made for a competitive match. UCSD, at the end of the night, edged out Concordia for its first loss of the season, with scores of 26–28, 28–26, 25–18, and 25–23.
The match was tightly contested, and it was Concordia that got off to the start it wanted coming into the night. Concordia was able to quickly snatch away the first set from the hosts. After trailing 15–13, the Tritons were able to get back on top at 19–15, but the Eagles rallied and tied the score at 23–23. With the score at a stalemate, the Eagles made crucial blocks at critical moments in the first set to take the set.
In the second set it would be much of the same with both teams unable to take command of the set, instead trading blows back and forth with the crucial plays coming at the end of the set. This time around, the winning plays would be made by the Tritons to take the second as senior opposite Tanner Syftestad and redshirt senior middle blocker Bryan Zhu got a kill and block.
The third would be the most commanding set by the Tritons from the night, as they were able to get away from Concordia later in the set with a 6–0 run to lead 21–14 and take the set a few minutes later.
In the fourth set, the Tritons trailed 10–5 and it seemed to be an uphill game. However, the team’s fighting spirit was there and it ended up leveling the score at 18–18. The Tritons then took the lead with a score of 22–20 moments later to be in command of the set and the match. The Eagles would show resilience and not let up, somehow fighting their way back into the game and evening it up once again at 23–23. The Tritons finally put the game away with two points to win the match.
Next up for the Tritons is a road trip to Arizona to face Grand Canyon University and Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 26 and Saturday, Jan. 27 at 5 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively. The team will try to maintain its winning ways in the team’s first road trip of the season.