LA JOLLA – In a matchup between arguably the top-two volleyball programs on the West Coast, No. 3 Cal State San Bernardino proved to be at its best Wednesday night against No. 16 UC San Diego with an impressive 3-1 road victory in CCAA play.
Before a crowd of 481 fans at RIMAC Arena, the Coyotes improved to 14-0 overall and 9-0 in the CCAA with their second victory against a ranked foe this season.
The 14 consecutive victories is CSUSB’s third-best start in school history.
The list of impressive performances for the Coyotes again featured the band of usual suspects in the 25-18, 22-25, 25-21, 25-17 victory. Senior All-American Samantha Middleborn was solid yet again at her middle blocker position. The reigning National Player of the Year had a 16 kills/1 error effort in 30 attacks, good for a .500 percentage. She also had a combined eight blocks with two solos.
Middleborn was joined by fellow senior Morgan Carty, who had the squad’s first double-double this season. The Upland native had 10 kills and a team-best 25 digs this season. Four players had double figures in digs as senior libero Kelcie Tolan had 23 and sophomore outside hitter Danielle Newcombe 12.
Junior All-American Camille Smith also had a double-double with 46 assists and 10 digs.
Senior outside hitter Priscilla Collings returned to her hometown and tied Middleborn with 16 kills on the night. She also had a match-best three service aces.
The Coyotes’ 92 digs were a season best and they shut down the Tritons on the attack, holding UCSD to a .107 attack percentage (42-24-168).
After taking the opening set 25-18, the Coyotes built a 9-2 lead in the second set before UCSD got rolling. The Tritons built a 9-1 run to lead 11-10. The set was tied six times down the stretch until UCSD scored three consecutive points after the set was tied for the last time at 22-22.
In set three, the Coyotes trailed 18-17 before they earned momentum late for the winner. Three kills from Collings ignited a four-point run. The Tritons answered with three consecutive points of their own to tie the set at 21-21.
But with Collings serving, she threw down a kill and after UCSD had an attack error, she served an ace and Carty earned the set winner with a kill.
Leading 17-12 in the fourth set, UCSD rallied with four consecutive points. CSUSB coach Kim Cherniss called a time-out that paid dividends late as CSUSB got back on track with five consecutive points of their own to take a 22-16 lead. Johnson and Carty each had kills in the final moments and CSUSB had its valued road win.
UCSD dropped to 10-3, 6-3.