LA JOLLA, Calif.– No. 13 UC San Diego defeated 14th-ranked Cal Baptist 3-2 in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) match at RIMAC Arena on Thursday. Set scores were 19-25, 25-17, 17-25, 25-16 and 15-12.
With the victory, the Tritons evened their record at 3-3 overall and are now 2-1 in the conference. Cal Baptist, the 13th and newest member of the MPSF this season, dropped to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in league play.
UCSD’s Carl Eberts produced 22 kills to lead all players and equal the highest single-match output of his Triton career, having reached that total two previous times. With just four errors on 34 swings, he hit .529 for the match while adding eight digs.
Eighth-year Triton head coach Kevin Ring’s late lineup paid big dividends, as he played the final two sets with Nick Iorfino and both his setters in Mike Brunsting and Garrett Dempsey, although Dempsey was setting and Brunsting was showing his versatility at opposite.
Iorfino wound up with a season-high nine kills off the bench on .538 (9-2-13) hitting, with Brunsting adding five kills to his 25 assists from his turn as the primary setter to begin the night and Dempsey dishing out 24 assists.
Eberts and Iorfino put down seven kills apiece in a dominant fourth-set performance that forced the fifth and deciding frame. The Tritons attacked at a .630 rate (20-3-27), their best single-game performance of the 2013 season.
Over the fourth and fifth sets, Eberts, Iorfino, Brunsting and Dempsey accounted for 24 of the Tritons’ 27 kills.
Not to be outdone, junior outside hitter Vaun Lennon also reached double figures in kills with 10. Senior libero Chase Frishman scampered around the court to the tune of a match-high 11 digs. Junior middle blocker Fred Stahl contributed five kills and a match-high six total blocks, including important denials in each of the last two sets.
With UCSD leading 23-16 in the fourth after three consecutive points, Stahl roofed CBU’s Jonathan Waber down the middle to push the Tritons to set point, with an Eberts kill closing it out. Then ahead 6-5 in the fifth, Stahl combined with Iorfino to deny Lancer outside hitter Levi Cabral and give UCSD the first two-point edge of the set.
Later, tied at nine and then 10 in the fifth set, three Eberts kills in a span of four points gave the Tritons a 13-11 advantage and forced a Cal Baptist timeout. Coming out of the stoppage, Dempsey and Sebastian Brady teamed up on a block of Cabral. After the Lancers parried away one match point, Iorfino’s cross-court attack from a Dempsey set punctuated the Tritons’ come-from-behind victory.
Cabral paced Cal Baptist with 17 kills and Guilherme Koepp added 15 kills. Senior outside hitter Aaron McCalmont finished with a double-double of 16 kills and a team-high 10 digs. Sophomore setter Kevin Kustura collected 47 assists and six digs.