UCSD hangs with top teams

    There are no “”moral”” victories for the UCSD men’s volleyball team, but after staying competitive with two of the top teams in the nation, the Tritons have proven that they are closer to picking up the actual wins than many may have thought. The Tritons took one game apiece from No. 2 UC Irvine and No. 3 UCLA in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation action over the weekend, and they say that they are a few short steps away from being more than just competitive.

    Guardian file photo

    The Jan. 24 clash with undefeated UCI was UCSD’s first MPSF match since the Tritons switched Eric Perrine into the setter role and won back-to-back matches against Ohio State University. UCSD opened well with its new look, surprising the Anteaters in the first game with a 30-27 win. UCSD attacked at a .440 clip to UCI’s .194, but the Tritons could not continue their solid attacking, managing only 36 kills for the match’s final three games while committing 28 attack errors.

    After the early run by UCSD, the Anteaters regained their form and won the match 3-1 (27-30, 30-21, 30-26, 30-21). UCI had three players in double-digits for kills, led by Jimmy Pelzel, who had 20. Jim Waller led the Tritons with a match-high 22 kills, while Adam Toren, T.J. Young and Kevin Keyser contributed eight each. The UCSD block achieved a season-high with 16 total blocks led by Brian Foott, who had seven block assists, and Keyser, who had five assists and a solo.

    Keyser, who attacked an incredible .889 for the match, noted his team’s satisfaction with their performance against a tough team, but also the need to fix some minor problems.

    “”I felt like we played hard and made a lot of little mistakes, but for the most part, the effort was there,”” he said. “”We’re all happy with what happened.””

    The next night, UCSD faced no less of a task when it traveled to Pauley Pavilion to take on the UCLA Bruins. Facing similarly low expectations as the night before, UCSD once again managed to take a game on the road before falling 3-1.

    The first game opened very tight when UCSD out-hit the Bruins .371 to .341, but UCLA squeaked out a 30-28 victory. The Tritons could have folded after they came up empty in the first game, but they kept fighting. The Bruins took game two 30-24, but UCSD managed an impressive 30-28 victory in game three, despite UCLA’s .432 attacking percentage. The Bruins closed out the match in game four, when the No. 3 team in the nation held off a Triton charge for a narrow 31-29 win.

    UCSD was out-blocked 12.5 to 7 and out-hit .397 to .314, but was not outplayed. Chris Mortimer led the Tritons on defense with 13 digs, and setter Perrine guided the offense with 62 assists, leaving four Tritons with double-digit kill tallies, led by Waller with 20.

    Perrine has added to the team’s stability and fellow senior Mortimer has noticed the increased evenness with which his team is playing.

    “”We played really well as a team,”” he said. “”We were able to maintain good intensity in key parts of matches when we needed to. We didn’t get too down on ourselves when we got behind.””

    The Tritons return to action on Jan. 29 when they take on non-conference foe Princeton before weekend MPSF matches Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 against USC and Pepperdine.

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