UCSD Falls to Gauchos in Five Sets

Frank Fritsch attempts to block a shot from UCSB. Fritch smashed 11 kills in the loss on Jan. 16 (John Hanacek/Guardian File).

MEN’S VOLLEYBALL — The No. 11-ranked UCSD men’s volleyball team traveled to UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, Jan. 16, to play its second match this season in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation campaign. The Tritons were unsuccessful in securing their first victory in a very close seesaw match against the No. 14-ranked Gauchos. UCSD lost with a final score of 26-30, 30-24, 27-30, 30-27 and 15-13.

This was the fourth consecutive meeting between the two teams where the winner was decided in five sets. However, it was the first time that the Gauchos were victorious in the matches. The loss dropped the Tritons to 0-2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and 1-4 overall.

Leading the way for UCSD was senior outside hitter Jason Spangler, who registered 15 kills and seven digs. Freshman middle blocker Cyrus Kiani also contributed with 12 kills on .625 hitting. Junior setter Phil Bannan had a double-double with 52 assists and 10 digs. Senior opposite hitter Frank Fritsch slammed 11 kills and junior outside hitter Joel Davidson added nine kills.

UCSB was led by outside hitter Jeff Menzel who finished with 25 kills, and opposite hitter Cullen Irons with 14 kills.

Neither team was able to gain a firm hold on proceedings, especially early on, as evidenced by the 33 ties in the match — eight of which occurred in the first set. The Tritons trailed behind 3-0, but quickly turned things around to take the lead 8-7 with a kill from Kiani. UCSD and UCSB went back and forth until the Tritons ultimately claimed the first set 27-23, due to a Gaucho error. Junior middle blocker Adrian Guthals’ kill sealed the set at 30-26.

In the second set, the Gauchos jumped out to an 11-6 lead, until the Tritons fought back to 12-10. However, UCSB was able to stave off the comeback attampt, and ultimately claimed the second set with a 30-24 victory.

The Tritons started out on top in the third set with a 10-6 lead, thanks to a block from Fritsch and junior middle blocker Calvin Ross. UCSB fought back to tie the set at 18-18 until UCSD scored four straight points topped off with an ace from Ross to lead 22-18.

But the Gauchos fought on, and tied the set at 27-27. Fortunately for the Tritons, two errors from UCSB and a Ross kill were enough to hand them the set at 27-30.

In the fourth set, UCSB broke the 11-11 tie to take a 20-15 lead. The Tritons worked to bring the score to 25-24, minimizing the Gaucho’s lead to only one point. Despite the Tritons’ best efforts, they lost the set 30-27.

In the fifth and final set, the Tritons started off with a 9-8 lead, but could not improve on their .095 attack percentage as the Gauchos hit at a .316 clip. UCSB eventually sealed a 15-13 win, ending the match in its favor.

“In the match [against UCSB], we were better at passing,” head coach Kevin Ring said. “Due to that, we played better offensively and [kept] a more balanced attack.”

The loss against UCSB followed UCSD’s Mountain Pacific Sports Federation season opener at No. 2 Cal State Northridge on Wednesday, Jan. 13. There, the Tritons were defeated 30-24, 30-26 and 30-28 at the hands of the Matadors, extending their winless streak against Northridge to 35 matches.

The Tritons were outhit by the Matadors .320 to .174. Fritsch led the way for the Tritons with 16 kills on .33 hitting. Spangler had seven kills. Bannan offered 29 assists, five digs and four kills in the game. Guthals led the team with six blocks and five kills on .625 hitting. Freshman libero Chase Frishman had a team-high eight digs in the game.

Fritsch tied the first set at 16-16 with a kill. However, Cal State Northridge won the first set with a score of 30-24.

The Tritons scored the first three points of the second set. With the score tied 14-14, both teams battled until the Matadors topped the Tritons and won the set 30-26.

In the closely fought third set, Bannan sent a kill to tie the set at 23-23. After the Matadors cruised to a two-point lead, the Tritons retied the set at 26-26 through an ace from Spangler. Moments later, Fritsch sent down a kill to again tie the set at 28-28. At the end of the dramatic set, Cal State Northridge claimed the set victory at 30-28 with a kill and block.

“For the next match, we need to continue passing well,” Ring said. “In order for us to be competitive, we need to sideout with more consistency.”

The Tritons will return to action on Jan. 20 against Pepperdine University before heading to Los Angeles to play University of Southern California on Jan. 22.

Readers can contact Jessy Jahangir at [email protected]..

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