UC San Diego made a Cinderella push in the Big West Conference Men’s Volleyball Championship but fell short, losing 3-1 to UC Santa Barbara in the title match in Honolulu.
They took the second set, 27-25 at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center, but could not overcome the Gauchos losing their other sets, 22-25, 25-21, and 25-20.
UC Santa Barbara won the automatic berth to the NCAA National Collegiate Championships.
UC San Diego’s season record drops to 5-13, as UC Santa Barbara improves to 15-4.
Despite their record, the Tritons, ranked 14th nationally, ranked as the tourney’s fourth seed. The Gauchos, ranked third in the country, were the second seed. Both squads played in the conference final for the first time.
UC San Diego defeated fifth-seeded Cal State Northridge Thursday in a semifinal, the program’s first postseason win as an NCAA Division I or Division II team.
The Tritons enjoyed a big upset Friday, against undefeated Hawaii, the reigning conference champ. Ranked No. 1 nationally, and having secured the tournament’s top seed, the Warriors had a first round bye and advanced straight to Friday’s semifinal against UCSD.
In a thrilling five-set affair, the Tritons halted Hawaii’s 16-match win streak. It was the Tritons’ first win against the Warriors in nearly a decade.
As the No. 2 seed, UC Santa Barbara also received a first round bye. The Gauchos dispatched seventh-ranked and third-seeded Long Beach State, 3-1, in a semifinal to move on to Saturday’s title bout.
UC San Diego came in with an 0-2 Big West Championship record after losing to UC Irvine in 2018 and 2019. They faced UC Santa Barbara seven times this season, going 0-7.
The NCAA on Sunday set the seven-team field for the National Championship. Hawaii made the cut, despite the Big West loss, along with UC Santa Barbara, Pepperdine, BYU, Penn State, Lewis and Belmont Abbey. Play begins May 3.