This past weekend, the UCSD men’s volleyball team faced off against California Baptist with a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match in which it was unfortunately swept by the opposition, ending the night on a 0–3 loss.
As a result of this loss, UCSD’s overall record fell further to 5–20 overall and its MPSF rating fell to 0–19. Following its win, California Baptist, which was almost voted into the national top-15 poll, ended the night reaching the desired .50 mark with a record of 14–14 overall and further improving its MPSF ranking to 6–14.
The match featured three different sets, and the Tritons were very close to winning the first two sets before they were handily defeated during the third set: 25–23, 24–26 and 25–16.
“It was a difficult loss tonight,” UCSD Head Coach Kevin Ring told the UCSD athletic department. “The first two sets, we did a lot of really good things to put ourselves in position to win. We just unfortunately were playing catch-up late in those sets and never turned the tide to get a lead, though we battled really hard. In the third set, it was a matter of what we could do just a little better than we did the first two sets, to turn things in our favor. Cal Baptist kept the pressure on, and we struggled with some serve-receive. That was the difference in that third set.”
The first set seemed very auspicious for the Tritons as they were continually able to rally and come back into the game time and time again; California Baptist would go on a scoring drive and the Tritons would respond with a scoring run of their own. UCSD senior outside hitter Kirill Rudenko capitalized on the first of these bouts by scoring an ace and placing the Tritons in the lead with a score or 6–5. However, the Lancers responded after a couple of plays by going on a three-point scoring drive for which the Tritons took a timeout and returned to score. They received contributions from the whole team; an ace by sophomore opposite hitter Tanner Syftestad and a second service winner of the night from Rudenko tied up the game to 15–15. Later in the set, freshman middle hitter Nathan Thalken came out with a crucial ace that tied the game back up again to 23–23, forcing the Lancers to take a timeout to discuss strategy. What they discussed must have been useful because, as a result, they came out of the huddle and scored a kill and an ace, giving them the set with a 25–23 victory.
Set two was very similar in terms of the back-and-forth presence of UCSD in the lead: Again, the Tritons were able to tie or even beat the Lancers’ score, but they were eventually outscored and had to chase the lead once again. UCSD was forced to take the first timeout of the set after California Baptist went on a scoring drive and reached a 9–6 lead; the timeout was not as effective as it had been in the last set, and the Tritons fell further behind at 11–7. The Tritons started scoring again but so did the Lancers, and the game progressed to 16–11. It was here, however, that the Tritons decided that they had enough, and thus, slowly but steadily, reached up to only one point behind California Baptist, 23–22. Junior middle blocker Shayne Beamer was then able to get in a kill by scoring off the tape and tying it all up at 23–23. Once again, however, the Tritons weren’t able to close the deal and were ultimately defeated with a 26–24 result.
The Tritons surprisingly started off the third set well and even managed to gain an early lead. None of this lasted long, however, as California Baptist was on a six-point scoring game from which the Tritons could not recover. Riding off on that scoring drive, the Lancers didn’t back off but instead continued the assault until they won that match, 25–16.
“We did a lot of good things tonight,” Ring also told the UCSD athletic department. “We just need to find a way, as a team, to do more things better at the same time, to make the difference. We’re making all the plays necessary to win. We’re just not getting as consistent a play as we need. It’s a team loss. It’s a collective loss, but we’re asking each guy individually, to step up [his] game. For us to win these matches, that’s absolutely what we have to do. We need every guy to a man, to step up their game. That’s the challenge we’ve put on the team.”
The UCSD men’s volleyball team is next looking to finish off its regular season this upcoming weekend with a face off against Long Beach State and California State University Northridge on Friday and Saturday, respectively.