Volleyball opens with loss

    The UCSD men’s volleyball team started off the season in the toughest fashion: playing defending 2001 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national champion Cal Baptist Lancers in Riverside. Even though the odds were stacked against them, the Tritons played their hearts out, but came out a few points short when Cal Baptist swept the Tritons 3-0.

    In the first game, UCSD had a 20-17 lead that featured strong play from junior Eric Perrine and sophomore Jim Waller. But Cal Baptist came back with four straight points on errors by the Tritons and a kill by Lancers junior Ivan Topchiysky that turned the momentum. The Lancers went on to win the first game 30-27, but the Tritons proved they would maintain their ground all day long.

    “”The first game started off real well,”” said head coach Ron Larsen, “”but I thought if we were ahead late, someone would step up to be the leader and finish of the game, but nobody did that. It was a typical first game in that we were just finding our way and figuring out what worked and what didn’t.””

    In the second game, the Tritons again mustered up a lead deep into the set but just couldn’t win the big points. With a 19-18 lead, the two teams went back and forth scoring-wise to tie at 23.

    After a service error by the Tritons, Lancers star blocker Artur Kusio took the serve with a 24-23 lead and served out the game, 30-23, largely due to Lancer freshman Sergio Rose, who had seven kills in the game.

    The third game proved to be deja vu for the Tritons because UCSD enjoyed another lead of 19-18 but lost in the closing minutes. Two seniors from Cal Baptist, Andy Pool and Matt Peacock, were blocking machines in the final game, combining to block the last ball and finish off the match 30-25.

    Perrine led the team with 10 kills and three aces. He also contributed three blocks to the cause. Waller played extremely well and had eight kills and two blocks. Senior outside hitter Griffin Cogorno finished with five kills and a team-high four blocks.

    Overall, the Tritons can be proud of the way they played the NAIA champions, but from the team’s standpoint, winning is always within reach.

    “”I think there was a point in the match where we could have taken control, but we did not serve well and we didn’t take their hitters’ shots too well — plus we gave them a lot of chances,”” Larsen said. “”If you do that, you are not going to win too many matches.””

    The Tritons drop to 0-1 on the season and will try to rebound at home against Division I powerhouse USC Jan. 18 and Pepperdine University on Jan. 19.

    “”USC has a real good team with big strong guys, such as Brook [Billings] as a bona fide All-American player,”” Larsen said. “”That match will be really tough. The Pepperdine team is really well-touched and we know they will be well-prepared coming into the match, even though they have lost a couple players from last year. Each team has a different element, in that USC is an individual-oriented team with strong players while Pepperdine is more team oriented.””

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