Men's volleyball gets first MPSF win

    There is no such thing as a night off in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. After picking up its first conference win in dramatic style against USC, the UCSD men’s volleyball team fell 3-0 to top-ranked Pepperdine on March 15, and then lost consecutive matches against defending national champion Hawaii on March 26 and March 28.

    In Los Angeles, the Tritons showed resolve and an ability to come through in the clutch that they had sought all season. The Triton offense got rolling right away with 32 kills on only five attack errors in the first two games. The effort was not enough, however, as the Trojans took back-to-back 30-28 decisions on the strength of 40 kills and jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the match.

    In the crucial third game, the Tritons languished with 10 hitting errors that gave USC double match points at 29-27 before UCSD flipped the switch. Head coach Ron Larsen’s squad pushed four straight points and won 31-29 to keep the match alive.

    The Trojans’ deficiency in the service department showed in the fourth game as the number of service errors climbed toward the match total of 24; Tritons used that slight edge to pick up the 30-26 win, and UCSD gained the momentum.

    In the fifth and deciding game, UCSD managed just a .182 hitting percentage, but USC could do no better with five errors among their 14 attempts. After fighting back from the very brink of defeat, the Tritons closed it out 15-12 to claim their first MPSF victory.

    Jim Waller led the way for UCSD with 26 kills while Adam Toren and T.J. Young had 11 and 10, respectively. Senior setter Eric Perrine picked up 55 assists on the evening and led his team to a .356 attacking percentage, the team’s third consecutive match at or above .350.

    The following evening in Malibu, Calif., UCSD ran into the very tough Pepperdine Waves team. Feeding off the previous night’s energy, the Tritons were able to steal the first game from the top team in the nation, 30-26, but they would get no more. The lethally efficient Waves’ offense kicked into gear and Pepperdine’s dominance in the blocking game led the charge to 30-21, 30-20, 30-27 wins in the following games, and the victory.

    Waller again led the Tritons, this time with 21 kills as Toren and Andy Rupp also got into double digits in kills for UCSD. Chris Mortimer picked up a season-high 17 digs and Perrine was steady again with 53 assists.

    In a pair of home matches March 26 and March 28, the Tritons played host to defending national champion Hawaii. In the first match, the Warriors put down 54 kills with only 10 errors for a dominant .458 attack percentage and the sweep (30-25, 30-19, 30-26).

    Two days later UCSD made a huge improvement in the blocking game with Waller, Rupp and Kevin Keyser each picking up seven total blocks, leading UCSD to 17 team blocks as compared to only three the previous match. UCSD was able to make things more competitive, but in the end, Hawaii was just too strong. The Warriors took a 30-26, 27-30, 30-20, 30-20 four-game victory to complete the season sweep.

    The Tritons will return to action on March 31 when they hit the road to face the University of La Verne.

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