Tritons Fall in Opener

    The path to success is one paved with sundry obstacles, an age-old adage that the Triton men’s volleyball team found to be true in its first weekend of play. It opened the season with a non-league scrimmage on Friday night versus California Baptist University.

    Lyon Liew
    Guardian

    Despite UCSD’s pregame intentions, the more seasoned Cal Baptist team, which already has five games under its belt, took the showdown in four sets. The Tritons were able to muster only a third set victory in a squeaker, 30-27. The other three sets were all Cal Baptist, as they took the first 30-22, the second 30-26, and the fourth and deciding by a tally of 30-28.

    While they did present a challenge at times, especially in the close final set, the Tritons struggled against opposition that should not have been very difficult for them to beat. Cal Baptist’s attack was led by Rafael Paal, who had 13 kills and six digs to go along with his four service aces. Other standouts for the opposition were Rick Schapler, with 11 kills, seven digs and Matt Peacock, who compiled 10 kills and three digs. Teammate Ivan Topchiyski also chipped in with seven digs in the winning effort.

    There were a few instances of inspired play for the Tritons, who looked mainly to be getting the kinks out and the wheels greased in their initial match. Senior standout Zach Hite looked strong, blasting 10 kills and picking up four digs. Donald Chen, the Triton MVP following their 2000 Division III Championship campaign, tied for the UCSD game lead with 11 kills, also adding four digs. Brian Foote, the 6-foot-6-inch sophomore middle who is a new addition to this year’s squad, also had 11 kills in the Triton effort. Another newcomer, Orange County College transfer Griffin Cogorno also showed signs of his impressive ability, clubbing nine kills and leading the team with seven digs in his first game wearing UCSD colors.

    Lyon Liew
    Guardian

    Despite the bright play from these Triton leaders, the Tritons fell to their opponent in this match. Cal Baptist, 1-3 coming into Friday night’s game, improved to two wins on the season and does not look to be much of a contender this season.

    With upcoming matches against some of California’s strongest programs looming, these early season jitters and miscues must be ironed out if Larsen’s team is to be successful.

    That was not done yet by the time the team had to compete in its first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match, when the Tritons were downed by the Gauchos from UC Santa Barbara in three straight sets. In front of an estimated 300-person RIMAC Arena crowd, the Gauchos took the match with set-winning scores of 30-20, 30-24 and 30-24.

    The Gauchos, led by Andy Rivera with nine kills and seven blocks, were also playing their first game of the 2001 Mount Pacific Federation season. Rivera was backed up by Alex Lienert, who had eight kills, four blocks and four digs, and Dave Kohl, who picked up six kills and three digs to go with his two service aces.

    Another key performer for UCSB in the win was Anders Bengstsson, a 6-foot-5-inch sophomore and Swedish import who notched eight kills, with no errors out of 11 attempts, for a whopping .727 hitting percentage. The Gaucho bombs were allowed by setters Jeff Minc with 22 assists and Brett Malang with 18 in the win.

    The Tritons, despite the inability to win any of their sets, were competitive in each and showed signs that the three-set sweep did not accurately portray the disparity between the two clubs. The play of Hite and Cogorno was once again impressive, as each had 10 kills, with Hite also adding nine digs and three blocks. Chen was once again the man in charge on offense for the Tritons, zapping the Gauchos with 12 kills, while throwing down four blocks in the loss. Setters Eric Perrine and Jordan Hove supplied the juice to the hitters, with Perrine dealing up 22 assists and Hove dishing 18.

    With the victory the Gauchos climbed to 2-0, with a 1-0 record in the MPSF. UCSD, playing in its first official game, fell to 0-1, in-league and overall. They will next venture up into the freeway-choked urban wasteland that is Los Angeles to face off against USC Friday night at 7 p.m.

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