Volleyball Team Enjoys a Rare Win, Downing Santa Cruz

Saturday night at RIMAC Arena, the UCSD men’s volleyball team squared off against UC Santa Cruz and handled the Banana Slugs in an impressive fashion, winning in straight sets 30-17, 30-23 and 30-23.

David Pilz

The win was the Tritons’ second of the season and raised their overall record to 2-11, while they remained at 0-9 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

What makes UCSD’s win even more impressive is the fact that UC Santa Cruz, an independent National College Athletic Association Division III program, was ranked second in the nation in the latest AVCA poll.

The Tritons started off strong in the first game, taking a 1-0 lead off a kill by junior outside hitter Griffin Cogorno, who was set up nicely by junior setter Jordan Hove.

The two teams then went back and forth until UCSD reeled off three straight points on kills by Cogorno and senior Donald Chen and one of UCSC’s 11 service errors on the night to take the lead 6-10.

Later in the match, the Tritons again posted three points in a row and pushed their lead to 17-12, forcing the Slugs to call a timeout.

The teams again traded off points until another UCSC service error shifted the momentum toward the Tritons, and they responded by taking advantage of three Santa Cruz attack errors to score four straight points and put the game out of reach, 25-15.

The Slugs would only get two more points, as UCSD closed out a dominant first game with a kill by senior outside hitter Zack Hite off a Hove assist.

The second set began in the exact same way as the first for UCSD, as it took the lead first off another Cognorno kill. However, this time it was the Slugs who seized the momentum with three straight points to take the lead 3-1. Santa Cruz was able to hold the lead until the Tritons finally battled back to tie the game at 7-7. But the Slugs again took the lead off a kill by their sophomore outside hitter Tom Moffett and stayed ahead of UCSD until a Hite kill once again tied the game at 13-13.

After a Santa Cruz kill, UCSD’s Chen evened the score, and then the Tritons took their first lead since the beginning of the set on a Slug service error. After another kill by Chen and a kill by UCSC made the score 16-15 in favor of UCSD, the Tritons tore the game wide open by smacking four points in a row, earning three off Santa Cruz errors.

The other point came off a kill by sophomore Eric Perrine and especially hurt UCSC, as they battled against UCSD in a lengthy rally, but came up short in the end. The Slugs would battle, but four more errors did them in as a kill by Hove put them out of their misery, 30-23.

The third game again began with a UCSD kill, this time by Chen. The Tritons wasted no time jumping in front of the Banana Slugs, as Chen’s second kill of the game put UCSD up 4-2. After Santa Cruz came back to tie the game, a Hove kill and two UCSC errors put the score at 8-5 in favor of the Tritons. After a UCSC kill, the Tritons responded by putting up five straight points, including a long save by Chen that Perrine finished to twist the dagger into the heart of the Santa Cruz squad.

That would be all for the Banana Slugs as they twice battled to pull within three points of UCSD, but it would all be for naught as the Tritons closed out the game and match, fittingly enough, on a Santa Cruz error to win 30-23.

UCSD’s offense was particularly impressive, as it banged out a 0.355 hitting percentage, including a 0.536 percentage in the first game.

Chen had led the way with 14 kills on the night for the Tritons, while both Cogorno and Hite were also in double figures, with 13 and 10 kills respectively. Hove also came up big, contributing with 44 assists on the night.

The Tritons will be hitting the road next weekend, making stops at UC Irvine and UCLA. They will then return to the safe confines of RIMAC Arena here at home to play host to Loyola of Illinois on the night of Wednesday, March 7.