Photo by: Andy Wilhelm
Vlad Pesic

Tritons' Second Season as Big West Member Starts this Week at No. 6 Pepperdine, No. 2 UCLA

UCSD

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The University of California San Diego men's volleyball team kicks off its second season as a member of the Big West Conference this week with a pair of non-conference matches on the road in Los Angeles County

THE SCHEDULE
Match 1
UC San Diego (0-0) at No. 6 Pepperdine (1-0)
Friday, Jan. 4 • 7:00 p.m.
Firestone Fieldhouse • Malibu
Live StatsLive VideoTickets

Match 2
UC San Diego (0-0) at No. 2 UCLA (1-0)
Saturday, Jan. 5 • 7:00 p.m.
John Wooden Center • Los Angeles
Live StatsLive VideoTickets

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ABOUT UC SAN DIEGO
Roster | Schedule | Statistics
• Overall: 0-0
• Big West: 0-0
• Home: 0-0
• Away: 0-0
• Neutral: 0-0
• Against Nationally-Ranked Teams: 0-0
• Streak: n/a
• AVCA National Ranking: not ranked
• Big West Preseason Poll: 6

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UC SAN DIEGO ROSTER BREAKDOWN
Starters Returning (1)
• Wyatt Harrison (So., OH)

Primary Liberos Returning (1)
• Ryan Lew (Jr.)

Starters Lost (5)
• Alec Flowers (MB/OH)
• Milos Stojcic (S)
• Tanner Syftestad (OPP)
• Nathan Thalken (OH/OPP)
• Bryan Zhu (MB)

Others Returning (10)
• Gabe Avillion (R-Fr., MB)
• Alex Biz (R-Fr., OH)
• Bryce Curtis (So., OPP/OH)
• Macune Gilruth (R-Fr., OPP)
• Xander Jimenez (R-Jr., OH)
• Connor Leech (R-Fr., OH)
• Vlad Pesic (R-So., MB)
• Collin Shannon (So., OPP)
• Sean Staskus (R-Fr., OH)
• Connor Walbrecht (Jr., S)

Others Lost (6)
• Thomas DeStefano (L)
• Alec Juhl (S)
• Luke La Mont (OH)
• Luke McDonald (OPP)
• Tyler Morgan (MB)
• Drew Sloane (MB)

Newcomers (10)
• Shane Benetz (Fr., MB)
• Logan Clark (Fr., MB)
• Blake Crisp (Fr., S)
• Ryan Ka (Fr., OH)
• Beikl Liu (Fr., MB)
• Berkeley Miesfeld (Fr., S/OPP)
• Matt Palma (Fr., L)
• Marco Posada (Fr., OH/OPP)
• Leor Schiffer (Jr., OH)
• Michael Urdahl (Fr., MB)

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ABOUT PEPPERDINE
Roster | Schedule | Statistics
• Overall: 1-0
• MPSF: 0-0
• Home: 1-0
• Away: 0-0
• Neutral: 0-0
• Streak: Won 1
• AVCA National Ranking: 6
• MPSF Preseason Poll: 3

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ABOUT UCLA
Roster | Schedule | Statistics
• Overall: 1-0
• MPSF: 0-0
• Home: 1-0
• Away: 0-0
• Neutral: 0-0
• Streak: Won 1
• AVCA National Ranking: 2
• MPSF Preseason Poll: 1

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FOR STARTERS
UC San Diego is 5-8 in openers under head coach Kevin Ring. In 2018, the Tritons defeated McKendree, 3-2, at UCLA's Wooden Classic. The team went on to win seven of its first nine matches last season.

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ALL-BIG WEST HONORS FOR SYFTESTAD AND HARRISON
The first Big West Conference men's volleyball postseason awards included two UC San Diego representatives in Tanner Syftestad and Wyatt Harrison. Syftestad was a member of the All-Big West First Team, while Harrison was on the Big West All-Freshman Team.

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SYFTESTAD WITH IMPRESSIVE FIRSTS
In 2018, Tanner Syftestad became the first player in program history to garner postseason recognition from AVCA, earning All-America honorable mention. He was also the first UC San Diego student-athlete in any sport named All-Big West and Big West Conference Athlete of the Week. In addition, the opposite was named VolleyMob All-America Third Team and VolleyballMag.com All-America honorable mention and was a repeat Off the Block (OTB) Division II National Player of the Year. 

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SEVEN TRITONS EARN BIG WEST ACADEMIC HONORS
Following the 2018 season, seven Tritons picked up Big West All-Academic honors including Alec Flowers, Xander Jimenez, Ryan Lew, Luke McDonald, Milosh Stojcic, Nathan Thalken, and Bryan Zhu. UC San Diego's seven honorees were second-most among the six Big West programs behind only Hawai'i's eight. To qualify, student-athletes are required to maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average, be at least a sophomore academically, and have competed in at least 50 percent of their team's contests. It was the seventh straight year in which the Tritons had at least six recognized at the conference level for their classroom achievements. For the third year in a row, Flowers had the team's top GPA at 3.69.

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TWO FIRST-YEAR TRITONS COME IN AS AVCA HIGH SCHOOL ALL-AMERICANS
Blake Crisp and Berkeley Miesfeld were chosen to AVCA High School Senior All-America teams back in June. Crisp was on the 10-player first team, with Miesfeld named to the 10-player second team. The duo, picked out among a record 97 nominations, are the first Tritons selected for the AVCA distinction since Tyler Bird made the first team in 2014 and Griffin Galvin the second team in 2013. Two Tritons are on the list for the first time since 2011, when Garrett Dempsey and Tien Le were both second-teamers. Only high school seniors whose head coaches are AVCA members are eligible. Crisp was subsequently also named to the 12-player VolleyballMag.com Boy's High School All-America Second Team in July.

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RIMAC RENOVATION
The Tritons will be playing in an updated RIMAC Arena this season as it recently underwent its first significant renovation in its nearly 24-year existence (opened in January of 1995). The project has modernized the arena and improved training and competition facilities for student-athletes. In addition, the venue will provide fans with a first-class live event experience. The renovation included new retractable seating, modern glass railings, and a VIP skybox. The arena’s most noticeable new features are the addition of a 50-foot wide Daktronics digital video display and scoreboard as well as state-of-the-art courtside LED scorer’s tables. A new video production facility was also constructed.

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BIG WEST STANDINGS
(through 1/2)
Pepperdine, 0-0 (1-0)
UCLA, 0-0 (1-0)
CSUN, 0-0 (0-0)
Long Beach State, 0-0 (0-0)
UC Irvine, 0-0 (0-0)
UC San Diego, 0-0 (0-0)

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UC SAN DIEGO IN THE NCAA STAT RANKINGS
(final 2018, all matches)
5. Attacks/Set: 28.79
13. Digs/Set: 
15. Assists/Set: 11.39
18. Kills/Set: 12.05
22. Blocks/Set: 2.17
23. Hitting Percentage: .239
38. Aces/Set: 0.97
40. Opponent Hitting Percentage: .277

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TRITONS IN THE NCAA STAT RANKINGS
(final 2018, all matches, top 50 only)
2. Tanner Syftestad, Points/Set: 5.18
2. Tanner Syftestad, Kills/Set: 4.48
2. Tanner Syftestad, Attacks/Set: 10.02
22. Milos Stojcic, Assists/Set: 9.12
25. Tanner Syftestad, Hitting Percentage: .314 
39. Alec Flowers, Blocks/Set: 0.89
48. Tanner Syftestad, Aces/Set: 0.31

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TRITONS IN THE BIG WEST STAT RANKINGS
(final 2018, conference matches, top 10 only)
5. Tanner Syftestad, Kills/Set: 3.67f
6. Connor Walbrecht, Assists/Set: 6.39
6. Tanner Syftestad, Digs/Set: 1.90
7. Tanner Syftestad, Points/Set: 4.0
7. Milos Stojcic, Assists/Set: 5.50
9. Connor Walbrecht, Digs/Set: 1.77

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AVCA NATIONAL POLL
(preseason)
1. Long Beach State
2. UCLA
3. Hawai'i
4. UC Irvine
5. BYU
6. Pepperdine
7. Lewis
8. Ohio State
9. Loyola-Chicago
10. UC Santa Barbara
11. CSUN
12. Concordia Irvine
13. Stanford
T-14. Grand Canyon
T-14. Purdue Fort Wayne

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UC SAN DIEGO IN THE AVCA NATIONAL POLL
• Preseason: not ranked

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2019 BIG WEST PRESEASON POLL
1. Long Beach State, 36 points (six first-place votes)
2. Hawai'i, 28
3. UC Irvine, 26
4. UC Santa Barbara, 16
5. CSUN, 11
6. UC San Diego, 9

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2018 UC SAN DIEGO REWIND
• Overall: 9-19
• Big West: 0-10 (6th)
• Home: 5-8
• Away: 1-10
• Neutral: 3-1

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2018 FINAL BIG WEST STANDINGS
1. Long Beach State, 9-1 (28-1)
2. Hawai'i, 6-4 (19-8)
3. UC Irvine, 6-4 (21-10)
4. CSUN, 5-5 (16-11)
5. UC Santa Barbara, 4-6 (11-13)
6. UC San Diego, 0-10 (9-19)

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HEAD COACH KEVIN RING
Entering his 14th season heading up the UC San Diego Men's Volleyball program in 2019, Kevin Ring owns a 93-275 overall record at the school. Ring got his start as the Tritons' team manager from 1989-91 before playing for the team for three seasons. He was an assistant coach for nine years and was named head coach in June of 2005. He has also been extensively involved with USA Volleyball. Ring earned two degrees from UC San Diego, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry in 1996, followed by a master's in Chemistry in 1998. Click here for a full biography. 

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BIG (WEST) NEWS FOR UC SAN DIEGO ATHLETICS
On Nov. 27, 2017, UC San Diego was officially invited to become a member of the NCAA Division I Big West Conference. The Tritons begin a four-year reclassification period starting in the fall of 2020 and will play a full Big West schedule that season. During the transition, UC San Diego will be eligible for National Collegiate Championships in men's volleyball, men's and women's water polo, and men's and women's fencing. For the 2024-25 academic year, all sports will be eligible to compete in Big West and NCAA Division I Championships. Men's volleyball became an associate member of the Big West for the 2018 season and women's water polo will join the conference in the spring of 2020. Read the full press release here.

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GEAR UP
For the latest in Triton athletic gear, make sure to visit ucsdtritonsgear.com. Run by UC San Diego Athletics' online partner Advanced-Online, the site provides an on-demand option for Triton athletic apparel and merchandise. Fans have access to over 600 products that can be processed and shipped within 24 hours.

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FOR THE YOUNGER CROWD
Got some young Triton fans in your family? If they are eighth grade or under, check out the Junior Triton Club. Membership includes a free t-shirt, admission to over 100 UCSD home athletic events, and much more!

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BE SOCIAL!
UC San Diego Athletics on Facebook (UCSDtritons)
UC San Diego Athletics on Instagram (UCSDtritons)
UC San Diego Athletics on Twitter (@UCSDtritons)
UC San Diego Men's Volleyball on Instagram (ucsdmvb)

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UP NEXT
UC San Diego remains on the road, traveling east for four matches at Sacred Heart, Harvard, Lewis, and Loyola-Chicago. The Tritons finally open their home slate on Jan. 25 against UCLA.

About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles, and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in the summer of 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's pre-eminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.

Follow the Tritons
For complete coverage and information regarding UC San Diego Athletics, follow the Tritons online at UCSDTritons.com and through social media on Twitter (@UCSDTritons), Instagram (@UCSDTritons) and Facebook (UCSDTritons). To stay tuned in to UC San Diego Men's Volleyball, follow the team's Instagram (@UCSDmvb).

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