UCSD Sets Hitting Record in Home Opener Against Ivy League

    John Hanacek/Guardian

    MEN’S VOLLEYBALL — On Jan. 27, No. 12-ranked UCSD men’s volleyball team opened its season at home, squaring off against Princeton University. The Tritons defeated the Tigers in straight sets 30-24, 30-24, 30-25 —bumping their overall record to 3-5.

    UCSD hit at .518, setting a new school high for hitting percentage. Last season’s record — .469 — was set against George Mason University.

    The Tritons led 13-11 in the first set, before going on a 12-6 run to extend the to 25-17. UCSD claimed the first set when junior middle blocker Calvin Ross smashed over the final kill.

    In the second set, UCSD grabbed the lead at 11-9 after two Tiger errors. A subsequent kill by senior opposite Frank Fritsch and a Tiger error gave the Tritons a four-point lead; from there, Princeton never got closer than three, and UCSD closed the set with three straight points.

    Junior setter Phil Bannan and senior setter Erik Sierks provided passes which freshman middle blocker Cyrus Kiani and Fritsch capitalized on for 12 and 11 kills, respectively.

    Bannan contributed 30 assists in two sets, over which the Tritons hit .565 and .577 respectively. Sierks added 17 assists in the final set of the match, where UCSD hit at .441.

    Junior outside hitter Will Ehrman — who added eight kills in the first two sets — said that despite the win and school record, the Triton performance left room for improvement.

    “We won that game and were happy to come away with the result,” Ehrman said. “But we didn’t play very well in that match, and didn’t execute as well as we wanted to.”

    Following its win against Princeton, UCSD traveled to Long Beach to face No. 8 Cal State Long Beach. The last time the two teams went head to head, the Tritons and 49ers battled to a four-set thriller in which three of four games were decided by two points.

    This time, though, UCSD fell to Cal State Long Beach in three sets, 30-22, 30-22, 30-21.

    After putting on an offensive clinic against Princeton, the Tritons were restrained to a .045 hitting percentage, while Cal State Long Beach hit at .387. The Tritons were out-blocked by LBSU 20 to three in the match.

    The loss left UCSD with a 1-4 record in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, while Long Beach State improved to 3-2 in conference play.

    LBSU jumped out to a 15-11 lead after a block in the first set. The Tritons narrowed the 49ers’ lead to three, but LBSU expanded the margin to 21-15 after another block — prompting the Tritons to call their second timeout.

    Back on the court, the 49ers extended their lead to nine points before closing out the set 30-22.

    “It was a rough night for everyone, in all phases of the game,” Ehrman said. “We couldn’t execute any part of the game well. They played a great match, and we couldn’t stop them from an offensive standpoint. We couldn’t pass well, and couldn’t get our offense going.”

    The Tritons will get a shot a redemption on Friday, Feb. 5 when they rematch against No. 6 Cal State Long Beach at 7 p.m. in RIMAC Arena.

    “From a team standpoint, this is the first time all season we’ve had a full week of practice before a match,” Ehrman said. “We’ve been hitting the gym, practicing passing, setting tempo, — and outside hitters have been taking big swings.”

    After the rematch against LBSU, the Tritons will meet Hope International on Feb. 6 in Fullerton, Calif.

    Readers can contact Jessy Jahangir at [email protected].

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