The UC San Diego men's volleyball team did what no other team could do this season as it handed Hawaii, the nation's top-ranked squad, its first loss of the season.
The fourth-seeded Tritons dished out a gutsy performance to defeat the top-seeded Rainbow Warriors, 3-2, Friday in a Big West Championship semifinal at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center. Scores were 22-25, 25-23, 16-25, 25-23, and 18-16.
The win advances UC San Diego to Saturday's conference title match against third-ranked and second-seeded UC Santa Barbara.
It was UC San Diego's first win against Hawaii since Jan. 6, 2012. That match was also in Honolulu.
The Warriors' 16-match win streak, which dates back to the 2020 season, came to an end.
DON'T MISS: Live updates of the 2021 NC men's volleyball championship
In Friday's early semifinal, UCSB defeated third-seeded Long Beach State, 3-1, to earn its chance to play for the Big West crown and an automatic berth in the NCAA National Collegiate Championship.
The Tritons are on quite a tear on the islands. In a first round match Thursday, they downed CSUN, the fifth seed, to earn their first postseason win as an NCAA Division I or Division II team. UC San Diego joined the DII ranks prior to its 2001 season.
UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara have met five times already this season. The Gauchos have won them all, three in sweeping fashion.
This is the third Big West Conference Men's Volleyball Championship. The inaugural event was held in 2018, the year that the league began sponsoring the sport. Long Beach won the title. In 2019, it was Hawaii coming away with the championship. The 2020 tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Until Thursday, UC San Diego was winless at the event at 0-2 with both losses coming against UC Irvine.