The UCSD men’s volleyball team beat Division-I UC Santa Barbara in straight sets last Friday, Feb. 15 at RIMAC Arena, dominating from start to finish (25–20, 25–17, 25–20). On Saturday night, Feb. 16, the Tritons fell to No. 1 team UC Irvine 0–3 (25–16, 25–19, 25–21). Sophomore outside hitter Nick Iorfino, tallying his 130th kill, led the team in the attack on Friday night with 12 kills for the night. The win brought the Tritons to 5–10 overall and 3–8 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The Tritons met with the Gauchos earlier in the season, falling on Feb. 1. UCSD vs. UC Santa Barbara
The Tritons started the first set with even scoring against the Gauchos before they pulled ahead to 20–15, and eventually won the set 25–20. The Tritons dominated the second set, taking a quick 3–0 lead after a kill by sophomore Cheyne Hayes and a service ace from junior Mike Brunsting. The team’s assertive offense led to a commanding 11–4 lead, with kills from senior Carl Eberts, Iorfino and Hayes. The Tritons continued to hold the lead with a second set score of 25–17, never letting the Gauchos score more than two consecutive points at a time. The third set started with a tied score at 3–3 until the Tritons exploited the Gauchos’ ineffective serving as well as an ace from junior Fred Stahl and another kill from Hayes. At a 9–6 score, the team went on a 4-point run to bring the score to 13–6, cementing a strong lead and ultimately a victory over UCSB 25–20.
Overall, UCSD out-hit the Gauchos .376–.202 for the night, and finished with 35 digs and 45 kills, while UCSB had just 22 digs and 29 kills. Scoring leaders included Iorfino with 12 kills, Eberts with 11 and Hayes with nine. Senior libero Chase Frishman had a match high of 13 digs against the Gauchos as well.
“I liked our effort in different phases of the game, attacking, serve receive attacking, transition, blocking well, serving tough,” UCSD head coach Kevin Ring told the UCSD Athletics Department. “I thought we played a lot of the phases of the game pretty well.”
UCSD vs. UC Irvine
The Tritons hosted the No. 1-ranked UC Irvine Anteaters on Saturday, Feb. 16 confident from their win against UCSB the night before. But the road to victory proved much more challenging against the Anteaters after a straight set loss on Saturday night.
Starting off against UCI, the teams played shot for shot with kills from Stahl, Iorfino and Hayes, until Irvine turned the tide to jump to 19–13 and solidified a first set win 25–16.
In the second, the teams remained close in scoring, tying almost every point until the Gauchos grabbed a break at 21–17 and took a 25–19 win shortly thereafter.
In the third frame, UCSD went down early in the set before rallying to a 16–16 tie with scores from Hayes, senior Greg Smith and junior Vaun Lennon. The Tritons took their first lead of the game at 19–18, but the Gauchos’ offense came back to win 4 of the next 5 points, and ended the game and the match with a 25–21 win in the third.
Though the team recorded a loss, Tritons still slated some impressive statistics with 35 kills and 16 digs, while Irvine had 41 kills and the same 16 digs. Triton leaders for Saturday night included Hayes with 14 kills and Eberts with nine. When looking at the team’s conference and the differences between winning and losing a match, head coach Kevin Ring concedes that it all comes down to a few possessions at the net.
“We’re not that far off, we’ve had some close games, but it’s really big, the mental aspect of it, can you play tough down the stretch and can you come from behind?” Ring said. “We’ve challenged some experienced players saying this is what we need you to do this entire set or this entire game.”
No. 1 UCI will meet with UCSD again on March 28. Until then, the Tritons will face Hope International University on Feb. 22.