Tritons Split Matches With No. 11 Hawaii

MEN’S VOLLEYBALL — The UCSD men’s volleyball team played a pair of matches against the University of Hawaii on Friday and Saturday, winning the first in five sets before losing 3-1 on Saturday.

Friday’s match showed scores of 25-23, 16-25, 20-25, 25-23 and 15-8. UCSD was outhit .266 against Hawaii’s .325, but managed to hang on for the win in the first five-set game of the season.

The sets were tight throughout, showing 14 and 16 tie scores in games one and four, respectively. The fourth game had eight lead changes, but the Tritons only let the Warriors get one tie score in game five and never trailed, clenching the victory for UCSD.

“Coming out of a couple of time outs and even after the loss in game two, we were talking confidence, confidence,” head coach Kevin Ring said. “It’s our gym — let’s go defend it.  And I really felt like the guys did that. We kept our composure, kept our heads up, and kept fighting it.”

Senior middle blocker Calvin Ross led the Tritons with a career-high 17 kills and just two errors in 26 attacks.

“This was one of the best matches Calvin has ever played,” Ring said. “I was really impressed with what he did ending game four. We had six kills from the middle game five and that’s huge.”

Five of those six kills came from Ross.

“It was the sets from Phil [Bannan],” Ross said. “Phil was just setting it up for me perfectly. The passes and everything, it worked out what we did as a team, not just what I was doing. Guys came off the bench and played better than I’ve seen them play in a long time.”

Sophomore outside hitter Carl Eberts had 13 kills, nine digs, three assists, three blocks and a service ace. Phil Bannan collected another 32 assists, nine kills, four digs, two blocks and an ace, and fellow setter freshman Mike Brunsting showed 26 assists, eight kills, eight digs, two blocks and two aces.

“It shows a lot of confidence and ability of our passers to be in system and ability of our setters to have the confidence in that moment to set those guys,” Ring said. “There’s more pressure on the setter when you’re setting the quick, and I felt like we stepped it up to that challenge and got the job done.”

The Warriors came to Saturday’s match ready to fight, and the Tritons were unable to keep up the fire they had on Friday. The games were close, at 25-21, 25-20, 20-25 and 25-20. The Tritons delivered on the offensive side, hitting at a season-high .348 clip. But Hawaii was even better, hitting .424 on the match.

“Tonight, two things happened,” Ring said. “They came out like a team that was disappointed or frustrated with the loss last night, and we came out like a team that was maybe satisfied with getting a split.”

Ross showed 12 kills and hit .706 with no errors in 17 attacks. Bannan collected 43 assists, bringing him 37 away from breaking Brooks Dierdorff’s record of 3,867 assists to become UCSD’s all-time leader.

“We’ve got to make our opponent play more balls than they make us play,” Ring said. “They played a good match; they were a little hungrier tonight.”
The Tritons will face Hope International on Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 6 p.m. at RIMAC Arena in a non-conference match.

Readers can contact Hanna Rahimi at [email protected]