UCSD Swept Away By Waves

    VOLLEYBALL — After suffering another pair of losses over the
    three-day weekend, two nonconference games may be just the antidote for the
    UCSD men’s volleyball team.

    The Tritons were victorious in only one of their last six
    and are in dire need of a momentum change. Last week’s matches at No. 9
    University of Southern California and No. 7 Pepperdine University were no help
    as UCSD was swept 36-34, 30-23, 30-20 and 30-22, 30-20, 30-24, respectively.

    Freshman middle blocker Tyler Kern and the young Tritons will look to end a three-game losing streak when they hit the road to take on two nonconference opponents in Romeoville, Ill. on Feb. 22 and 23. (Sanh Luong/Guardian file)

    In their match at USC on Feb. 13, the Tritons battled hard
    in game one, siding out nine consecutive times to push late into the game
    before the Trojans closed it with an ace. In games two and three, the Tritons
    could not bounce back, and once again witnessed a sweep at the hands of a
    powerhouse Division-I school.

    Head Coach Kevin Ring felt the teams battled hard, but the
    Trojans played just a little better.

    “I thought we played well for stretches,” he said. “We sided
    out, preventing the game from ending about nine times, and we battled hard.”

    The Pepperdine match proved little different from the one
    the night before. The Tritons didn’t match up as well as they did in their
    first contest against the Waves this season, when the Waves’ All-American was
    missing.

    “We could’ve done some things better on our side,” Ring
    said. “We totaled five and a half blocks but they all came in the third game.
    Our hitters didn’t always take care of their swings and that was the
    difference.”

    Ring also felt that there were stretches where the team
    played well, but couldn’t put together a complete match.

    “We’re getting one or one-and-a-half games, but we’re not
    playing a full match of what I call good volleyball,” he said. “We’re trying to
    get a little better blocking and strengthen our sideout game to allow us to go
    on runs. You have to slow down the other side and we just haven’t been able to
    do that.”

    The two losses drop UCSD to 4-10 on the season with a single
    victory in conference play. Despite the dismal numbers, Ring continues to reiterate
    that this year’s team is still young and is still developing the finer aspects
    of the game.

    “One aspect of our game that can make a big difference right
    now is blocking,” he said. “A block has a bigger effect than just that one
    point. Opposing hitters get pressed and it forces errors. Our middle blockers
    are young and it’s a skill that takes a while to become proficient at.”

    Another area that Ring pointed to was the sideout game. He
    believes that getting on runs where the team can get four to six sideouts in
    row will make a huge difference.

    The development continues this week when the Tritons face
    2003 National Champion
    Lewis University

    Feb. 22 and No. 11 Loyola-Chicago University on Feb. 23.

    Although UCSD is 0-4 all-time against Lewis, Ring believes
    that this year’s squad offers a good opportunity to change that.

    “We’re going through the [scouting reports] right now,” he
    said. “Lewis has been playing some top opponents close but isn’t comparable to
    the upper teams in the [MPSF].”

    Last season, the Flyers outlasted the Tritons in five games
    at RIMAC Arena. Lewis has faced two MPSF teams this year, losing both matches.

    The Tritons then travel to face Loyola-Chicago, a team that
    they have not seen since 2005, when the Ramblers trampled UCSD in a three-game
    sweep. UCSD’s lone victory against Loyola-Chicago came back in 1996.

    The Ramblers are off to a solid start in the Midwest
    Intercollegiate Volleyball Association and three of their losses have come in
    five games. Ring noted how competitive Loyola-Chicago has been against good
    teams and doesn’t want to treat the contest any different than a normal
    conference match.

    “It doesn’t matter whether it’s conference or nonconference,
    our goal is to win both matches,” he said. “We had an open weekend in our
    schedule and filled it with two competitive teams.”

    The Tritons will travel away from California for only the
    second time this season and while Ring said traveling takes its toll, he
    expects the team to perform well. The trip to Romeoville,
    Ill.
    will be UCSD’s last away game as the
    Tritons will return home for a stretch of nine games at RIMAC Arena.

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