Tritons let UCI slip away

Following a near-upset of No. 10-ranked UC Irvine in five games on Feb. 9, the UCSD men’s volleyball team fell in straight sets to the UCLA Bruins, the best team in the nation, on Feb. 11.

The two losses came at the end of a five-game road trip for the Tritons (0-10 overall, 0-9 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation). The loss to UCLA was a tough one for UCSD as the team faced the No. 1 team in the country on its home court. The Tritons lost, 30-15, 30-24, 30-21, partly due to an attack percentage of .168 for the match. In the first game, UCSD suffered a -.038 stat while UCLA shot .308, leading to a 1-0 lead for the Bruins.

The second game was the most promising showing by the Tritons as they improved to a .324 percentage compared to the Bruins’ mark of .421. UCLA finished the match by outhitting UCSD, .407 to .171. The three-game victory was UCLA’s 12th win overall and their eighth in the MPSF. The Bruins have only one loss so far this season.

Jonathan Acosta led the Bruins with 15 kills, while teammate Brennan Prahler had 10 kills and four blocks. On the other side of the net, Triton sophomore outside hitter Mike Reuter and senior outside hitter Luke Honnette had eight kills each, and Reuter added seven digs.

UCLA came away with a straight set win over the Tritons, but UC Irvine was not so lucky. UCSD managed to give the Anteaters a scare, almost upsetting the No. 10 team. It took all five games for UC Irvine to secure the win and it was close throughout most of the match. In the first game, UC Irvine stayed just ahead of UCSD before pulling away late in the game. The Tritons managed to cut the Anteater lead to 22-20, but UC Irvine didn’t allow much more from the Tritons, winning the first game 30-23.

Game two was a tight one as well, with the teams knotted up 17-17 at one point. The Tritons had a lead of 22-17 before the Anteaters tied it back up at 24. Finally, UCSD managed to put the game away with a 30-28 final score.

In a decisive third game, the two teams were tied again as late as 27 points apiece. The Tritons came through in the clutch as Reuter notched a kill and they took advantage of a UC Irvine blocking and hitting error to win the third game, 30-27.

With a 2-1 game advantage, UCSD was poised to take the match and upset a very talented team, but the Anteaters would not quit. UC Irvine mostly led in the fourth game until the Tritons tied it up at 15-15. UC Irvine regained the lead with a 25-21 advantage, but UCSD went on a 5-1 run to even the score at 26. The Tritons were four points away from that elusive first win, but the Anteaters got their four points first and forced a fifth game with a 30-26 win.

After four games of tied scores and close finishes, the fifth game was surprisingly anticlimactic as UC Irvine dominated. The final score in game five was 15-9 and the Anteaters won the match three games to two. UCSD managed to keep its attack percentages pretty even with its opponent’s until the final game, when the Tritons hit .000, compared to .438 from the Anteaters.

Senior outside hitter Adam Toren led the Tritons with 20 kills and six digs. Honnette added 16 kills, Reuter had 14 kills and senior middle blocker Adam Rusch contributed 12. Senior libero Dickens Tai notched a team-high 17 digs in the match.

Despite the losses, UCSD held their own against an MPSF foe and did not let the Bruins run away with an easy win.

This week, the Tritons return home to face off against Cal State Northridge and UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 18 and Feb. 19, respectively.