Volleyball Continues Skid With Three Close Losses

    With nothing to show for their improved play as of late, the UCSD men’s volleyball team dropped three more games, including back-to-back losses in Honolulu on April 7 and 8.

    The Tritons have only two more chances to get a lone win against a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opponent. Last season, UCSD beat the University of Southern California for their sole MPSF win, going 1-21 in the league. Now the Tritons have a good shot at matching or surpassing that total by facing the two teams with the lowest win totals, Stanford and Pacific, in their upcoming games.

    On April 8, No. 3 University of Hawaii swept UCSD, 20-30, 25-30 and 18-30 in front of a Warrior crowd of more than 3,000. Senior outside hitter Jon Daze led the Tritons with 12 kills while senior outside hitter Matt Carere and junior outside hitter Lauri Hakala paced the Warriors with 13 and 12 kills, respectively. Hawaii improved to 21-4 overall and 17-3 in MPSF while extending their winning streak to 17.

    In game one, the Warriors had many runs, including a 1-7 run to begin the match. Hawaii ended the game with a 12-3 run and held UCSD without a block as the team easily won 20-30.

    Game two was a different story as the Tritons basically matched Hawaii point for point until the Warriors broke a 20-all tie. Hawaii went on to score four-straight points, eventually winning by five, 25-30.

    The Warriors took advantage of long runs yet again in game three, using a 1-9 outburst to crush UCSD 18-30.

    With the victory, Hawaii will be seeded no lower than No. 2 in the upcoming MPSF playoffs. Meanwhile, UCSD will surely be left to ponder how to improve in the offseason.

    “The fight left in our guys this late in the season with no hopes for a playoff [appearance] is impressive,” head coach Kevin Ring said. “The trip to Hawaii has been wonderful, the fans have been great. Too bad we couldn’t get a win.”

    UCSD looked like a playoff team the night before when they lost to Hawaii in four games.

    Game one stayed close, including a couple of lead changes. However, the Tritons couldn’t put the Warriors away in two game-point opportunities at 29-28 and 30-29. With the help of eight kills by Hakala, Hawaii took the game in extra frames 36-38.

    The Warriors fed off the momentum from game one to lead UCSD 22-27 in the second game. The Tritons refused to give up by going on a 6-1 run to tie it all up late in the game at 28-28. UCSD held off three set points and battled tough to a 39-37 victory on a Hawaii hitting error.

    “We didn’t let the loss in game one affect us,” Ring said. “The guys on the team have my respect for how hard they played against one of the top teams in the country.”

    The Warriors tightened their defense in games three and four, winning convincingly with scores of 20-30 and 21-30. UCSD was held to a mere .030 and .103 hitting in the final two games.

    “I think a little bit of the adrenaline high let down after going so many points in the first two games and we weren’t able to match it later on,” Ring said.

    On April 5, the Tritons almost upset the top-ranked National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics school, Cal Baptist, losing in five games.

    The Lancers took it to UCSD, cruising to wins in the first two games, 26-30 and 25-30.

    Instead of just giving up and losing in three, the Tritons tried to execute everything they’ve done in practice. Tied at 30-30 in game three, sophomore middle blocker Stephen Shaw and senior opposite Chris Sayers connected on back-to-back kills to give the Tritons the win 32-30.

    In game four, UCSD came back from behind to tie it at 25-25. The team continued with a 29-26 lead on a Cal Baptist attack error, forcing a fifth and final game, 30-27.

    With game five only getting up to 15 points, the Tritons came out fired up to win an amazing match. UCSD led off with a 4-2 lead with the help of a kill by senior outside hitter Mike Reuter. Cal Baptist upped their play by tying the score at 5-5 and then taking the lead 6-10. Another Reuter kill would later bring UCSD within one, 12-13, but two kills by junior middle blocker Urs Gunthor put the game away for Cal Baptist 15-12.

    “You look at our last few matches, we go four games with UCLA, go five with CBU, and four with UH; we’re playing hard,” Ring said. “We want to send [the seniors] out on a high note, we will get prepared and execute. I think we have a great opportunity in these last two games.”

    The Tritons close out their season on April 14 and April 15 against Stanford and Pacific at RIMAC Arena.

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