No. 14 men’s volleyball upsets No. 9 UC Irvine

    The No. 14 UCSD men’s volleyball team earned its third win in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation with a dramatic 3-2 win over UC Irvine on March 12, but the Tritons were unable to carry that momentum on the road as UCSD fell 3-0 to both Stanford and Pacific on March 26 and March 27. UCSD is now 7-15 overall on the season and 3-13 in the MPSF.

    Lori Drahota
    Guardian file

    UC Irvine came into the match as the higher ranked squad at No. 9, but the Tritons grabbed control of games one and two, winning each easily, 30-26 and 30-24. The Anteaters quickly turned things around on UCSD in game two, hitting .519 to the Tritons’ .211 to grab the game easily by a score of 30-18. The UC Irvine blocking effort notched 18 blocks for the match and took control of the fourth game by forcing UCSD into 10 hitting errors as the Anteaters prevailed again, 30-28.

    In the pivotal game five, UCSD came out strong with a 4-1 run to the delight of the 202 raucous fans in attendance. The Tritons were able to keep the lead at three points for much of the early going, but the Anteaters threatened by closing to within two at 12-10. Junior outside hitter Adam Toren put down a kill to stretch the UCSD lead back to three points before sophomore outside hitter Jeff Urton slammed consecutive kills to close things out, 15-10.

    Toren finished with 25 kills on a .327 hitting percentage to take match-high honors and was rewarded for his effort by being named the MPSF Player of the Week for March 8 to March 14. Senior opposite Jim Waller had 19 kills in addition to picking up 12 digs to share the team-high in digs with Urton. Freshman setter Brooks Dierdorff established a new career high with 58 assists on the night.

    After a layoff through finals week and most of spring break, the Tritons returned to action against a Stanford squad that UCSD upset at home on Jan. 24, for what was arguably the Tritons’ biggest win of the season. The Cardinal were not about to let UCSD enjoy an encore as Stanford took control early and never relented for a 30-25, 30-27, 30-24 sweep. Waller led UCSD with 14 kills while senior middle hitter Kevin Keyser had four total blocks to lead the Tritons while also racking up eight kills without a hitting error.

    Unfortunately for UCSD, revenge was not in store the following night as the Tritons were unable to beat the Pacific Tigers for the 23rd consecutive time, falling 30-28, 30-21, 30-23. UCSD held a 24-18 lead in game one, but surrendered a 12-4 run and the game. The Tritons were unable to recover in games two and three. Waller once again led UCSD with 15 kills while senior libero Dickens Tai had 12 digs. Senior middle hitter Andy Rupp had four total blocks on the evening to lead UCSD while fellow middle Keyser hit an efficient .571 with nine kills.

    The Tritons return to action April 2 and April 3 against Brigham Young University to open a five-game homestand that concludes UCSD’s home schedule.

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