NCAA men: a pair of upsets as UCSD sweeps UCLA, Mason beats Pepperdine

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NCAA mens volleyball 1/18/2020-UCSD volleyball-Wyatt Harrison-Connor Walbrecht-Ryan Lew-Shane Benetz
UCSD's Wyatt Harrison, Shane Benetz, Ryan Lew, and Connor Walbrecht celebrate the match sweep over UCLA/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Not only did UC San Diego upset No. 3 UCLA on Friday night, but the Tritons did it in a sweep, winning every set by at least three points.

In other words, it wasn’t even really close.

No. 13 George Mason managed an upset of its own, taking down No. 8 Pepperdine, and No. 14 Penn State upended No. 12 Loyola.

No. 4 UC Santa Barbara scored another sweep—the Gauchos have yet to drop a set this year.

More on those matches and the rest from Friday night to come, but first a look at Saturday’s schedule.

UCSD will look to carry its momentum into Saturday’s meeting with Grand Canyon, while Penn State will do the same, facing No. 6 Lewis in Romeoville. Across town, Loyola hosts No. 1 Hawai’i.

No. 2 BYU plays Mount Olive on the road for the second night in a row, and No. 4 UC Santa Barbara takes on Ball State. Erskine plays Bluefield College in Bluefield, Virginia, Belmont Abbey hosts Tusculum, and Limestone goes to West Virginia to play Charleston. The EIVA’s Saint Francis continues a Midwest road trip with a match versus McKendree, while Quincy looks for its first win of the season, taking on Benedictine Mesa.

Finally, NJIT plays at Lindenwood, and Saint Francis Brooklyn has DIII team Baruch.

To watch any match that is being shown, go to the VolleyballMag.com TV listings page for direct links to the broadcasts.

NCAA mens volleyball 1/18/2020-Matt Younggren-UCLA volleyball-Kyle McCauley-UCSD volleyball
UCLA’s Matt Younggren gets his thumbs on a spike by UCSD’s Kyle McCauley/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Reigning AVCA player of the week Kevin McCauley led UCSD (3-1) with 13 kills in the 25-22, 25-17, 25-21 win over No. 3 UCLA (3-1) Friday night. Wyatt Harrison also reached double-digit kills, recording 11. Setter Connor Walbrecht set a match-high with 28 kills, while opposite Collin Shannon led all players with 10 digs.

As a team, the Tritons hit .360 to UCLA’s .179, winning the serving battle 6-4 and the blocking battle 5-3.

“It was an exciting win for the guys tonight, we’ve talked about some of our goals early on, beating top-ranked teams, and here’s the No. 3 team in the country, UCLA, coming into our gym,” UCSD head coach Kevin Ring said. “We also talked about really creating a lot of pride on our home court, and we had a great crowd tonight, the culmination of the spirit week, with a lot of good games, with our match on Wednesday a victory, and a couple of basketball victories.

“For us to win this match, the season’s early, we’re seeing signs of what we’re capable of doing, but it’s a long haul. And we’re not even in mid-season form yet. We want to keep getting better.”

Austin Matautia topped UCLA’s stat sheet with 10 kills and just one error to hit .474. A few key players were missing from the Bruin lineup, including usual starting middle Daenan Gyimah, the team’s kills leader so far this season, and Brandon Rattray, who ranks No. 2 on the team in kills.

“You can only play who’s in front of you, right?” Ring said. “We have a great deal of respect for UCLA, that program, the coaching staff, John Speraw, we know a lot of those players, we’ve seen them over the years, and they’re very good. The win is something that we can take some pride in.”

Penn State’s (1-2) upset of Loyola (1-4) also came in straight sets, smooth sailing after a marathon first set that went all the way to 33-31 and saw Penn State fight off six Loyola set points. The win is just the third road victory for Penn State over Loyola in program history. Brett Wildman led PSU with 14 kills, while Cal Mende had 10.

“The resiliency of this group really showed tonight,” Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik said. “We were battling ourselves in that first set with our serve and some of the swings we had. Once we came back to win that first set, Brett [Wildman’s] serve took over early in that second set and we really settled in from there.”

Penn State out-blocked Loyola 11 to three and out-served the Ramblers eight to three.

A week after knocking off then-No. 12 USC, No. 13 George Mason (2-2) scored another upset, getting past No. 8 Pepperdine in four (25-22, 17-25, 25-20, 25-21).

GMU did it without usual starters Hayden Wagner and Mike Kapusta, both out with injuries. Instead, Richie Hoff led the offense with 12 kills, but had 12 errors to hit .000. Sam Greenslade added 11 kills, while Brad Creamer contributed 10. Greenslade also led the way defensively, posting a season-high nine digs and tying with Jack Reese for a team-high eight blocks.

The Patriots hit just .191 as a team, but Pepperdine also struggled on offensive efficiency, averaging a .188 percentage. Ben Weinberg and Jacob Steele each had 11 kills for the Waves, while Rob Mullahey and Joe Karlous shared setting duties, finishing with 24 and 13 assists, respectively.

No. 4 UCSB (4-0) beat No. 10 Purdue Fort Wayne (3-1) in straight sets (25-16, 25-16, 25-21), handing the Mastodons their first loss of the season. The Gauchos were almost errorless on the attack, posting a season-high .514 hitting percentage, led by senior outside hitter Roy McFarland with 12 kills, hitting .474, and senior opposite Keenan Sanders with nine kills, hitting .750.

Fort Wayne’s top attackers Pelegrin Vargas and Tomas Gago each hit .500, with 12 and nine kills, respectively, but the rest of the team’s hitters struggled, and the Mastodons hit just .160 for the match.

NCAA mens volleyball 1/18/2020-Rado Parapunov-Hawaii volleyball
Hawai’i’s Rado Parapunov hits off the hands of Lewis’ Tyler Mitchem and Ryan Van Loo/Michael Gomez photography

No. 1 Hawai’i (6-0) got past No. 5 Lewis (3-2) in four (20-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-23). The Warriors kills leader Colton Cowell sat out the match, but opposite Rado Parapunov helped pick up the slack, finishing the match with 22 kills to lead all players, adding 10 digs, four aces, and four blocks — only the second double-double of his career.

Hawai’i libero Gabe Worsley scooped a match-high 13 kills.

As a team, however, Lewis won the defensive battle, out-blocking Hawai’i 14 to 11 and out-digging its opponent 44 to 39. Offensively, the Flyers struggled, hitting just .193 to Hawaii’s .248 and getting only 12 kills from top attacker Ryan Coenen.

No. 2 BYU (5-0) held Mount Olive (4-2) to fewer than 20 points in two of three sets Friday night (25-17, 25-10, 25-22). The Cougars’ Davide Gardini led all players with 15 kills, and Gabi Garcia Fernandez had 10, in addition to setting a new career-high with eight aces. Setter Brody Earnest had 28 assists, but in 13 attack attempts, he didn’t manage to score a single point, finishing the match with a -.077 hitting percentage.

Jarrod Ferguson and Tobi Azeez each had nine kills for Mount Olive.

No. 7 UC Irvine (3-1) bested No. 9 Stanford in four (25-18, 25-23, 21-25, 25-21). For the second match in a row, UCI’s sophomore opposite Alexandre Nsakanda set a new career-high, this time scoring a match-high 16 kills. Anteater libero AJ Faille also set a career-high with 12 digs. While both teams scored three aces apiece, Stanford made 28 serving errors in the match.

Jaylen Jasper and Eric Beatty led the Cardinal offense, collecting 15 kills each.

No. 15 Ohio State (5-0) maintained its unblemished record and finished a season-opening homestand with a sweep (25-19, 25-11, 25-20) of King (2-3). No player on either team reached double-digits in kills or digs. Ohio State setter Michael Wright and King setter JT Deppe each had 19 assists, but the Buckeyes hit .387 to King’s .075.

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USC’s Kyle Gear reaches for a spike against Long Beach State/Jim Wolf photography

No. 5 Long Beach State dropped the opening set to USC, but rebounded to win the match in four (18-25, 25-21, 25-15, 25-22), maintaining a home win-streak that extends back to 2016. Outside hitter Spencer Oliver tied his career-high with 14 kills and set a new career-highs with 14 digs and four aces. USC’s Kyle Gear had 15 kills for the match-high.

Three of Friday’s 18 matches went to five sets. For Missouri Baptist (1-1), the victory over Quincy (0-3) marked the team’s first W of the young season and its second five-setter in a row, while Quincy remains winless. Miljan Kastratovic led MBU with 19 kills, while Luka Cajic had 16 and Drew Iliff 10, hitting .500.

Omari Wheeler was the only Quincy player to reach double-digit kills, tallying 12.

“We blocked well, did a great job with our first contact, and brought a ton of energy in set four and five,” MBU head coach Tom Young said.

Ball State (3-0) remained undefeated with a 3-2 decision over CSUN (1-4). The Cardinals had to come back from down 1-2, winning the match 20-25, 25-23, 26-28, 25-18, 15-12. Kaleb Jenness set the match-high with 22 kills, while Matt Szews added 18. Setter Quinn Isaacson added two aces to his 59 assists.

On the opposite side of the net, Maciej Ptaszynski led the Matadors with 15 kills. Both teams hit over .350.

In their home opener, the Bearcats of McKendree (2-2) snuck past NJIT (1-2), winning by extra points in the fifth (25-22, 25-23, 22-25, 23-25, 17-15) after being down 3-6. Both teams showcased balance offenses, with NJIT getting double-digit kills from Julian Meissner (15), Alvaro Gimeno (17), and Jens Feldthus (10), while Zach Schnittker led McKendree with 15 kills, and Ethan Carroll, Patrick Ross, and Wyatt Dimke each contributed eight kills. NJIT’s Luca Berger boasted a match-high hitting percentage of .833 with five kills on six attempts with no errors. Dimke led McKendree in efficiency, hitting .636.

Jackson Gilbert led North Greenville (2-1) to a 3-1 victory over Tusculum (1-4). The senior outside hitter had 13 kills, however, Tusculum’s Matteo Miselli set the match-high with 14, hitting .435.

Charleston got its first win of the season, improving its record to 1-4 with a 25-17, 23-25, 25-16, 25-17 victory against Erskine (0-1). Arthur Sueur, a 6-7 freshman outside from Switzerland, scored four aces for Charleston, and Lachlan Bray led the match with 15 kills. Charleston’s Edgar Sanchez topped the charts with 10 digs, while setter Diego Villafane had 40 assists.

Queens (2-2) celebrated its second win in as many nights, beating Lees-McRae (0-1) 3-1 (25-23, 25-17, 25-27, 25-18). Queens junior Tristan Santoyo set a new career-high with 24 kills, hitting .413. Eleven kills marked a new season-high for Josh Bragg, who hit .556. Lees-McRae relied on a more balanced offense, getting double-digit kills from Drew Sims (16), Steven Nalls (10), and Chris Woolslayer (10).

Lindenwood (2-1) collected 12 aces in a defeat of Saint Francis (1-2)—the most by any team in a four-set match so far this season. AJ Lewis led the Lions with 14 kills, while Cal Werths set the team high hitting percentage with six kills on 11 swings with no errors to hit .545. Saint Francis’ Michael Fisher tied the match high with 14 kills of his own.

Grand Canyon (2-2) easily swept Park (0-1), winning in straight sets 25-8, 25-15, 25-15. The Lopes scored nine aces without giving up one, and had 43 kills to Park’s 20. Jack Burton and Kyle Thompson led GCU with eight kills apiece.

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