Tritons End Skid Against Princeton

The UCSD men’s volleyball ended its three-game skid on Wednesday night, beating Princeton 3-0 with set scores of 25-21, 25-23 and 25-16. The Tritons have now won 11 consecutive matches against the Tigers, with their last loss coming in 1997.

The Tritons took an early lead by winning the first set. UCSD thoroughly out-hit the Tigers .345 to .148, but the set was still tight with seven tie scores and three lead changes.

“We did get off to a good start, but we let them back in it a little,” head coach Kevin Ring said. “I think we let them stay around. We let the score be closer than it should have been and I felt like we didn’t play our best by any means tonight. I wanted to — not necessarily run away with it — but just be the better team and play like it, and we didn’t do a great job of that in game one.”

Game two proved to be even closer, with .267 hitting from the Tritons and .241 from the Tigers. UCSD kept the lead until Princeton went ahead late in the set at 20-19. But after trading points, the Tritons were able to pull through and take the set at 25-23.

“They [the Tigers] are coming out and it’s a good trip for them to get their season going, so they’re playing really loose,” Ring said. “I felt like we’re just tight and we weren’t executing, bottom line. We had too many service errors, we weren’t passing that well, and they just swung away and played fearlessly. When you play fearlessly, you’re going to play loose and usually do pretty well.”

But the Tritons came out and dominated the third set, taking an early three-point lead and not looking back. UCSD easily won the set at 25-16.

“I felt like once we got to game three, we really got going,” Ring said.

Senior setter Phil Bannan collected 29 assists on the night, and needs just 112 more to pass Brooks Dierdorff’s 3,867 career assists and become UCSD’s all-time leader.

“Phil Bannan, at that point, showed he’s our MVP,” Ring said. “He got it down from the service line, did a great job at the net blocking, and made our passing look a little bit better than they really were. He was able to handle a lot of really tight passes — passes off the net that he did a nice job with.”

On the match, the Tritons hit at a season-high .333 clip.

Sophomore outside hitter Carl Eberts said the win was an important one, as the Tritons snapped their losing streak.

“We were able to get in sync, we were a little off on the weekend so it was good to get back into it and get a flow before we face Hawaii on Friday,” Eberts said. “I think serving was a big difference; we served and passed a lot better and from there everything flowed off of that.”

Eberts recorded his first career double-double, with 14 kills and 12 assists, both team-highs.

The Tritons will face No. 11 Hawaii at RIMAC Arena this Friday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m.

“[We have to] serve and pass, just play our game. If we play on our side well, I think we’ll do well,” Eberts said.

Readers can contact Hanna Rahimi at [email protected].