The University of California San Diego men's volleyball team faces two big road tests in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) play this week. The Tritons (0-2, 0-1 MPSF) travel north to take on No. 12 UC Santa Barbara (3-0, 0-0 MPSF) on Friday, Jan. 13, inside Rob Gym. They are then in Westwood to meet No. 2 UCLA (2-1, 0-0 MPSF) at Pauley Pavilion in a nationally-televised match on Pac-12 Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 14. Both first serves are slated for 7 p.m.
TRITON VOLLEYBALL ON UCSDTRITONS.TV
UC San Diego Athletics and local technology giant ViaSat once again in 2017 bring you Triton Men's Volleyball on UCSDtritons.tv, an online streaming platform. All broadcasts are in high definition, and can be viewed from smartphones and tablets. UCSD alum and former Triton baseball pitcher (2007-08) Tim Strombel (@Timmy2Sides) serves as the primary play-by-play voice, and is typically joined by 1988 Olympic gold medalist, beach legend and current UCSD women's volleyball head coach Ricci Luyties. Viewing is subscription-based, though it is free from UCSD campus IP addresses. A package that gives viewers access to all streamed events through the 2016-17 academic year is available for $34.99. A single-day option can be purchased for $5.99. The channel also carries all Triton home basketball contests, a majority of baseball, soccer, softball and water polo games, and a variety of other home events featuring virtually every one of UCSD's 23 intercollegiate sports at least once. Events are archived.
In addition to UCSD home matches featuring live online video at our streaming portal, UCSDtritons.tv, all contests, home and away, have live stats. A majority of road dates also have video, including both this week, with an additional audio stream at UCLA. Fans can access live coverage from the Schedule/Results page, or by clicking on the links above. Follow @UCSDtritons for in-match Twitter updates throughout the season, and @UCLAMVB on Saturday.
NATIONAL EXPOSURE FOR TRITONS
UC San Diego's first of four national television appearances in 2017 comes this Saturday night, Jan. 14, at No. 2 UCLA. The action from Pauley Pavilion beginning at 7 p.m. will be called for Pac-12 Networks, Pac-12 Los Angeles to be exact, by Anne Marie Anderson and Kevin Wong. Please check local listings on respective cable packages. The Tritons can later be seen on Pac-12 Bay Area at Stanford on Saturday, April 1. They were on Pac-12 Networks one previous time, a 3-0 defeat at USC on March 4, 2015. Both matches at preseason MPSF favorite BYU on Friday, Feb. 17, and Saturday, Feb. 18, air on BYUtv.
POSSIBLE TRITON STARTERS
S - #25 Milosh Stojcic (Jr., 6-3/185): 9.00 aps, 1.57 dps, 0.14 bps
OPP - #22 Tanner Syftestad (Jr., 6-8/215): 2.00 kps, 0.67 dps, .049 att%
OH - #2 Ian Colbert (Sr., 6-1/175): 1.57 kps, 1.14 dps, .121 att%
OH - #9 Devin Pontigon (Fr., 6-2/165): 3.29 kps, 1.29 dps, .192 att%
MB - #13 Bryan Zhu (RJr., 6-6/190): 1.17 kps, 1.17 bps, .312 att%
MB - #19 Shayne Beamer (Sr., 6-6/205): 1.14 kps, 0.14 bps, .375 att%
L - #15 Xander Jimenez (RFr., 6-4/200): 1.50 dps
LAST TIME OUT
UCSD was swept at then-eighth-ranked UC Irvine in its season opener last Thursday night, before falling in four sets in its home debut Saturday against non-conference foe Grand Canyon. True freshman Devin Pontigon put down a match-high nine kills in his first collegiate appearance at UCI, and added a team-best 14 kills against the Lopes to go along with seven digs, two aces and two blocks. The Tritons made 17 service errors in Irvine, before cutting that number down to eight.
25TH AND FINAL SEASON IN MPSF
The 2017 campaign is UCSD's milestone 25th and final one in the MPSF. The Tritons have been in the MPSF ever since it debuted in 1993. They will join the newly-formed Big West Conference as an associate member when play begins in that league in 2018. Full Big West members CSUN, Hawai'i, Long Beach State, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara also move over from the MPSF, giving the conference the minimum six teams required for postseason NCAA automatic qualification. Before it goes, UCSD looks to break a string of what is now 46 consecutive losses in league play dating back to late in the 2014 season, when the Tritons swept visiting Pacific on April 11. They have never qualified for the MPSF Tournament.
HOMECOMING FOR NICK VOGEL
Saturday night's visit to Pauley Pavilion will mark a return to Westwood for first-year UCSD assistant coach Nick Vogel. Vogel was a four-year starter for the Bruins under legendary and now-retired head coach Al Scates from 2009-12. He appeared in 99 matches, compiling 599 kills with a .323 hitting percentage, 299 blocks, 133 digs and 75 service aces. The 6-foot-9 opposite and middle blocker ended his career ranked No. 4 on the program's rally-scoring total blocks list. He played for the U.S. national team at the 2009 FIVB Men's Junior World Championship, the 2011 Pan American Games, the 2014 FIVB World Championship and the 2014 USA Volleyball Cup. Vogel spent the 2015 fall season as a volunteer assistant coach with the UCLA women's program.
ANOTHER TRITON-BRUIN CONNECTION
Ricci Luyties, the UCSD women's volleyball head coach, was a star setter and four-time national champion as a Bruin from 1981-84, before an Olympic gold medal in 1988 and Hall of Fame professional beach career. He was recently named one of 25 members of the first Southern California Indoor Volleyball Hall of Fame induction class. Luyties is also in fact the primary color analyst for the second straight year on Triton men's volleyball home broadcasts on UCSDtritons.tv.
1-Devin Pontigon (14 on 1/7 vs. GCU)
2-Milosh Stojcic (Best of 37 on 1/7 vs. GCU; two with 20-plus and one with 30-plus)
20-Tanner Syftestad (Best of 18 two times; last on 3/5/16 vs. UCI)
10-Ian Colbert (Best of 19 three times; last on 3/2/16 vs. PEP)
5-Alec Flowers (Best of 15 on 3/6/15 vs. CBU)
2-Shayne Beamer (Best of 14 on 1/10/15 at GCU)
1-Luke La Mont (12 on 1/30/15 at BYU)
1-Devin Pontigon (14 on 1/7/17 vs. GCU)
1-Josh Schmidt (10 on 1/27/16 vs. PRIN)
1-Bryan Zhu (11 on 3/2/16 vs. PEP)
1-Bryan Zhu (10 on 3/13/15 at STAN)
Four current Tritons have combined for seven double-doubles (none in 2017):
Ian Colbert (4)
1/23/16 at Holy Names (13 kills, 10 digs)
1/27/16 vs. Princeton (19 kills, 11 digs)
2/5/16 vs. California Baptist (17 kills, 10 digs)
3/5/16 vs. UC Irvine (10 kills, 10 digs)
Ryan Blaich (1)
3/5/16 vs. UC Irvine (49 assists, 10 digs)
Milosh Stojcic (1)
1/23/16 at Holy Names (31 assists, 10 digs)
Tanner Syftestad (1)
1/7/15 at Concordia (12 kills, 10 digs)
UC San Diego more than doubled its 2015 win output in 2016, from two to five. The 2017 edition is one of 12th-year head coach Kevin Ring's most experienced squads, with five starters back among 13 letterwinners. Top returners include fourth-year seniors Ian Colbert and Shayne Beamer, and junior opposite Tanner Syftestad. Colbert turned in a career year almost all across the board in 2016 as one of just two Tritons to start all 28 matches, with a team-best 233 kills. Syftestad was first in kills in 2015 (241) and second in 2016 (216). Beamer did not miss a match the last two seasons, with 117-plus kills in both, and led UCSD in total blocks as a junior.
COLBERT COMING OFF CAREER YEAR
Ian Colbert really stepped up in his junior campaign. The outside hitter out of Belmont in Northern California paced the Tritons in kills (233) and was second in digs (154) and third in aces (13). He had a team-best nine matches with double-figure kills, including a career-high 19 on three occasions. The middle one of those efforts came in just three frames at No. 5 Hawai'i (1/31), marking the most kills in a three-set match by a Triton since Frank Fritsch had 20 at No. 8 UCLA on Jan. 23, 2009, when sets went to 30 points. Colbert also posted his first four double-doubles.
Team tri-captains for the 2017 season were designated as fourth-year outside hitters Ian Colbert and Calvin Manchenko, and junior opposite Tanner Syftestad. Syftestad is a two-time captain.
UNIQUE STORIES IN TRITON LINEUP
• Tanner Syftestad is a third-year Triton who transferred after spending 2013-14 as a true freshman playing club volleyball at Chico State, which does not sponsor intercollegiate men's volleyball. The Sacramento native appeared in 55 of 56 matches his first two seasons, starting 52 of them at opposite and producing double-figure kill totals in 20. Syftestad led UCSD in kills (241), aces (15) and total blocks (75) in 2015, and was second in all three categories (216-15-44) in 2016.
• Alec Flowers was serving as a team manager to begin his freshman year in 2015 while slated to redshirt, before joining the active roster, making his college debut on Feb. 13, and ultimately starting nine of the final 10 matches at outside hitter. He had team bests of 15 kills and seven digs in his first start that March 6.
UCSD's schedule features 13 of 27 matches at home, as well as a March trip to Columbus, Ohio, to face defending national champion Ohio State and Ball State ... The Tritons are now 4-8 in season openers under Kevin Ring ... UCSD is receiving votes just outside of the top five of the inaugural Off the Block Division II National Coaches Poll (1/10) ... Devin Pontigon earned Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Freshman of the Week honorable mention on Jan. 9 after his college debut ... UCSD was picked 12th in the MPSF preseason coaches' poll, with BYU the favorite ... Tanner Syftestad was one of 17 standouts around the country named to the preseason watch list for the third annual Bryan Ivie Award, presented by Off the Block to the best opposite in NCAA Division I-II ... A league-high seven Tritons earned MPSF All-Academic distinction in 2016, including returners Ian Colbert, Alec Flowers, Luke McDonald, Milosh Stojcic and Bryan Zhu, with Colbert and Zhu now two-time honorees.
Of the 22 players on UCSD's roster, 21 are from California, with fourth-year outside hitter Calvin Manchenko a native of Melville, N.Y. ... UCSD has 14 returners, 13 of whom saw action a season ago, and eight newcomers ... Four Tritons have made their college debut in true freshmen Ryan Lew, Bailey Militar and Devin Pontigon, and redshirt freshman Xander Jimenez ... There are two San Diego products in Pontigon (Oceanside/El Camino HS), an outside hitter, and redshirt junior middle Bryan Zhu (Rancho Bernardo HS) ... Former UCLA and U.S. national team standout Nick Vogel is in his first year on the coaching staff, and has taken over as the top assistant, with UCSD graduate Paul Warren in his 11th season on the Triton bench.
HEAD COACH KEVIN RING
Kevin Ring is in his 12th season in charge at his alma mater. The 2009 MPSF Coach of the Year, he has a 77-238 overall record at the helm. Before being elevated to the head position on June 15, 2005, Ring spent nine years as an assistant for the UCSD men's squad. He got his start in La Jolla as the men's volleyball team manager from 1989-91 before playing for the Tritons for three seasons. Ring was the full-time manager for the U.S. men's national team from 1991-93 and continued on as a technical advisor through 1996. He accompanied Team USA to the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and the 1996 Games in Atlanta. The 1992 squad left Spain with a bronze medal. To this day, Ring maintains strong ties to USA Volleyball, and aided women's national team head coach Karch Kiraly and his staff in preparing Team USA for the 2016 Rio Olympics. That involvement included serving as an on-court assistant to Kiraly for three matches in Bangkok, Thailand, on the final stop of the FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary rounds in August of 2014. In the December 2015 issue of Volleyball Magazine, Ring appeared at No. 10 in a listing of the top head coaches in college men's volleyball, as voted by his peers.
ABOUT THE GAUCHOS
No. 12 UC Santa Barbara (3-0, 0-0 MPSF) won all three matches during its own UCSB Asics/South Coast Inn-vitational last weekend, topping both McKendree and Mount Olive in four sets Friday before sweeping Fort Wayne on Saturday. The Gauchos host No. 7 UC Irvine in their MPSF opener on Wednesday night, before welcoming in the Tritons two nights later. Rick McLaughlin is in his ninth season as the UCSB head coach.
UCSB leads the all-time series, 36-8, and has taken seven straight, all in three-set fashion. The Gauchos won twice in 2016 and 2015, and three times in 2014, blanking UCSD in the third-place match at their own Asics Invitational to begin that campaign. The 2013 season saw a split as UCSB won 3-1 at home, before UCSD cruised in straight sets in La Jolla over the then-15th-ranked Gauchos in just 71 minutes. UCSB was swept in its two dates with the Tritons in 2012, both contests coming during UCSD's five-match MPSF win streak late in the year. The Gauchos dropped a 3-1 decision at home before falling at RIMAC on March 31 by the score of 3-0. The Tritons have knocked off the Gauchos in seven of their last 20 meetings, with a pair of season sweeps in 2009 and 2012.
ABOUT THE BRUINS
No. 2 UCLA (2-1, 0-0 MPSF) went 2-1 in three matchups with nationally-ranked opponents outside of California to open its account. The Bruins swept No. 11 Loyola Chicago and No. 13 Penn State, the latter on a neutral court in Columbus, Ohio, at the AVCA Showcase Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge, before succumbing in four sets to top-ranked reigning national champion Ohio State on Saturday afternoon. UCLA hosts No. 7 UC Irvine on Thursday night before UCSD's visit to Pauley Pavilion on Saturday. John Speraw, the current head coach of the U.S. men's national team, is in his fifth season in charge at his alma mater after 10 at UC Irvine, where he guided the Anteaters to three national championships over a six-year span, including the 2012 crown.
UCLA leads the all-time series, 59-6, and has taken nine straight, though UCSD is 6-15 against the Bruins over the last 21 meetings since 2008. UCLA produced 3-0 sweeps in all eight MPSF matchups the past four years. The Bruins came out on top three times in 2013, snapping a streak of five consecutive seasons with at least one Triton victory. UCSD last won 3-1 inside RIMAC Arena on March 30, 2012.
For the latest in Triton athletic gear, make sure to visit ucsdtritonsgear.com. Run by UCSD 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.
FOR THE YOUNGER CROWD
Got some young Triton fans in your family? If they are in 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!
UCSD welcomes No. 7 UC Irvine in to RIMAC Arena for its MPSF home opener on Friday, Jan. 20, before making the short trip north on Saturday, Jan. 21, to non-conference foe Concordia Irvine. First serve both nights is set for 7 p.m.