WOODLAND, Calif. - UC San Diego has been picked to place 12th in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) men’s volleyball race in 2014, according to the preseason poll conducted by league head coaches and released on Thursday.
The Tritons, who finished 7-22 overall and 4-20 in league matches a year ago for 13th place, accumulated 24 points to rank just ahead of California Baptist (18).
In one of the tightest preseason polls in MPSF history at the top, Long Beach State and defending league champion BYU share the top spot with 126 points and three first-place votes apiece. Two-time defending NCAA champion UC Irvine sits just a single point behind with six first-place nods. UCLA is fourth with 117 points and the remaining first-place vote, while Stanford (99) rounds out the top five.
For the second year in a row, the MPSF will feature 13 teams in 2014. They are again set to play a 24-match schedule, facing 12 opponents both home and away, with the exception of back-to-back same-site meetings with Hawai’i on an annual rotation. The Tritons head to Honolulu in late January. Their schedule has 13 home dates.
Head coach Kevin Ring enters his ninth season in charge at his alma mater. He welcomes back senior Michael Brunsting (Poway/Francis Parker School) and junior Garrett Dempsey to battle it out for the starting setter position, as well as the senior trio of opposite Johl Awerkamp, outside hitter Nick Iorfino and middle blocker Fred Stahl. Ring also welcomes 12 newcomers into the program.
UCSD is less than a month away from launching its 2014 campaign, Jan. 3-4, at the 10-team UC Santa Barbara Asics Invitational. Pool play on the first day, with best-of-three-set matches in five-team groups that won’t count against anyone’s overall record, will determine placement match-ups on Saturday, Jan. 4, inside UCSB's Rob Gym. The home opener at RIMAC Arena is Saturday, Jan. 18 (7 p.m.), against 2014 national runner-up BYU.