No. 3 Pepperdine, No. 13 USC Keep Volleyball Winless After Seven Games

    The UCSD men’s volleyball team continued its winless start, dropping to 0-7 with losses to No. 3 Pepperdine University and No. 13 University of Southern California in front of the home crowd on Jan. 27 and Jan. 28, respectively.

    Greg Dale/Guardian
    Freshman Tim Dietrich and the Tritons lost to USC on Jan. 28, falling to 0-7 on the season.

    On Jan. 28, the Tritons lost in straight games to the Trojans, 22-30, 27-30 and 27-30. With the win, USC improved to 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

    UCSD outblocked an opponent for the first time this season, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Tritons’ timid play and USC sophomore outside hitter Juan Figueroa, who had 20 kills to go along with senior outside hitter and libero Joao Grangeiro’s 15 kills.

    UCSD coach Kevin Ring wished his team could take advantage of a struggling Trojan team.

    “When we go back to serve I want them to play aggressive and find ways to score points,” Ring said.

    The Trojans got off to an early start in game one with a lead of 6-13, but the Tritons made a run of their own to pull within three points. However, the lead was too much for UCSD to bounce back from, with the team eventually losing 22-30 on a USC kill.

    Throughout the night, the Tritons made hitting or service errors that ended their runs.

    “What concerns me is that we didn’t serve the right guy,” Ring said. “We didn’t get the ball to No. 13 [Figueroa], who wasn’t passing the ball very well. Hitting errors are things that we just have to cut down on.”

    UCSD again fell behind early in game two, trailing 4-10 and later 15-22. The Tritons showed how well they could play, putting together a run that brought them within three at 25-28 after junior middle blocker Garret Smith’s kill. But another error and ultimately a service error would end the game in favor of the Trojans 27-30.

    “[Serving is] all mental,” Smith said. “We serve well in practice, we come out here and don’t play as we practiced it.”

    Game three was very competitive, going back and forth between the two teams. The Tritons were down 14-18 when a small run cut the lead down to 22-24, with the help of Smith and sophomore outside hitter Russ Hardy. Again a good run was stopped by a service error. After senior outside hitter Jon Daze’s kill brought UCSD within one at 25-26, USC refused to relinquish the lead. Finally, with the three Trojan fans holding out their ‘victory’ sign (made popular by their football team), Figueroa ended the match 27-30 with a kill.

    “We were always playing from behind and we made a few plays, but unfortunately we were never in one of those three games,” Ring said.

    Daze led the Tritons with nine kills and a perfect reception percentage in 19 attempts. Smith also added nine kills against only one error. Junior setter Brooks Dierdorff had 36 assists despite senior opposite Chris Sayers, the team’s kill leader, playing only a few minutes with one kill.

    “[Sayers] came in and made some errors tonight, but he’s going to bounce back,” Ring said. “We got to get him going, we need his offense.”

    UCSD faced No. 3 Pepperdine University the night before, losing in three games, 28-30, 19-30 and 25-30.

    “Regardless of who it is and what their ranking is, we need to play at a high level,” Ring said.

    Game one was close with neither team pulling away. Two Triton attack errors ended the game in favor of the Waves after a 28-28 tie.

    In game two, the score was tied at 9-9 when Pepperdine scored 11 of the next 14 points to take a commanding lead. UCSD was not able to catch up, losing 19-30 on a freshman outside hitter Paul Carroll service ace.

    The Tritons played well in game three, even taking a 21-17 lead, which forced the Waves to call a time out. Pepperdine quickly tied the game at 21-21 with a kill by senior middle blocker Andy Hein. The Waves went ahead with a comfortable lead until junior outside hitter John Parfitt put down the winning kill at 25-30.

    Senior opposite Brenden Bowe led UCSD with 10 kills, while Daze added nine. Hein led Pepperdine with 15 kills against one attack error.

    Smith had eight kills for the Tritons on a .357 attacking percentage.

    “[Our performance] was average; we could’ve done better,” Smith said. “We lacked intensity and basically we need to keep our passing up higher in order to perform well.”

    UCSD will go for its first win against an unranked Princeton team Feb. 1 at RIMAC Arena.

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