The University of California San Diego men's volleyball team begins a difficult and season-long four-match road stretch this week, at nationally-ranked Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) foes. The Tritons (5-11, 2-9 MPSF) are at No. 12 CSUN (11-6, 4-6 MPSF) on Wednesday, March 1, and at No. 2 Long Beach State (15-2, 11-1 MPSF) on Friday, March 3. First serves at The Matadome and Walter Pyramid are set for 7 p.m. UCSD is 2-5 on the road in 2017.
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. 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. 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 @CSUNMensVB and @LBSU_MVB this Wednesday and Friday, respectively.
NATIONAL EXPOSURE FOR TRITONS
UCSD is on national television four times during this 2017 season. The Tritons were first on Pac-12 Los Angeles for a 3-0 loss to No. 2 UCLA inside Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 14. Their two matches at No. 3 BYU, both 3-0 defeats, were broadcast on BYUtv. UCSD can be seen on Pac-12 Bay Area at No. 8 Stanford on Saturday, April 1, at 6 p.m. The Tritons were on Pac-12 Networks one time prior to Jan. 14, a 3-0 defeat at USC on March 4, 2015.
LAST TIME OUT
UC San Diego fell flat at home last weekend to No. 13 UC Santa Barbara on Friday night, before a much more game effort in a four-set defeat to No. 6 UCLA on Saturday. The Tritons hit just .048 against the Gauchos, but improved that mark to .374 just 24 hours later. UCSD's 25-22 victory in game three on Saturday snapped a string of 30 straight set defeats to UCLA going back to 2013. Tanner Syftestad was in double figures in kills both nights, with 10 and 14. Ian Colbert joined him on Saturday with a season-best 14.
TRITONS AMONG THE POLLS
For the third straight week and first time since Jan. 13, 2014, UCSD is receiving votes just outside of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I-II Top 15 Poll. The Tritons have moved up to a season-best No. 2 (tied with California Baptist) in the first-year Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Division II National Coaches Poll.
25TH AND FINAL MPSF SEASON
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. The Tritons have never qualified for the MPSF Tournament.
STREAK STUFF...IT'S OVER!
The come-from-behind, four-set triumph at USC on Saturday, Feb. 4, finally broke a string of 49 consecutive MPSF losses dating back to late in the 2014 season, when the Tritons swept visiting Pacific on April 11. UCSD extended to a five-match win streak with a home sweep of No. 13 CSUN on Feb. 8, reaching the program's longest since another five-match stretch from March 9-31, 2012, all in MPSF play. The back-to-back MPSF successes against USC and CSUN also marked the first time for that achievement since that same period in 2012 (March 30-31).
Opposite and tri-captain Tanner Syftestad is having a great junior year. Over a remarkable five-match stretch from Jan. 20-Feb. 4, he produced kill totals of, in order, 23, 22, 31, 21 and 26, hitting .357 or better in each contest and averaging 5.35 kills per set (123 in 23). He has achieved at least a share of the team high in each of the last 12 tilts, with the match high in eight. Incidentally, his kills accounted for UCSD's final two points in the first four wins during its recent five-match success streak. Syftestad ranks sixth in the MPSF at 4.13 kills per set and fifth nationally. His career-high 31 kills against Hope International on Jan. 28 is the third-best single-match total in both the nation and MPSF. It was also a rally-scoring-era (since 2011) program record, eclipsing Johl Awerkamp's 30 from April 5, 2013. Syftestad's career-best 56 attacks in that same match, is No. 3 nationally in 2017.
The Tritons have "hit" a number of hitting milestones during this 2017 season. Junior Milosh Stojcic set them to a .516 attack rate in a straight-set home victory over then-No. 13 CSUN on Feb. 8, as UCSD attacked at an above-.500 clip for only the second time since 2000. It may have been the program's best effort in an MPSF match in its 25-year league membership. The Tritons then hit .324 in a 3-0 loss at No. 3 BYU on Feb. 17. That was their best percentage against BYU at least going back through the 2001 season, and likely ever in their 42-match all-time series with the Cougars. In a four-set loss to No. 6 UCLA on Feb. 25, UCSD hit .374, its highest against the Bruins since a .412 clip in a 3-1 home triumph on April 10, 2010.
11-Tanner Syftestad (Best of 31 on 1/28 vs. HIU)
3-Ian Colbert (Best of 14 on 2/25 vs. UCLA)
2-Devin Pontigon (Best of 14 on 1/7 vs. GCU)
1-Alec Flowers (10 on 1/20 vs. UCI)
16-Milosh Stojcic (Best of 56 on 1/28 vs. HIU; 14 with 20-plus and nine with 30-plus)
31-Tanner Syftestad (Best of 31 on 1/28/17 vs. HIU)
13-Ian Colbert (Best of 19 three times; last on 3/2/16 vs. PEP)
6-Alec Flowers (Best of 15 on 3/6/15 vs. CBU)
2-Shayne Beamer (Best of 14 on 1/10/15 at GCU)
2-Devin Pontigon (14 on 1/7/17 vs. GCU)
1-Luke La Mont (12 on 1/30/15 at BYU)
1-Josh Schmidt (10 on 1/27/16 vs. PRIN)
1-Bryan Zhu (11 on 3/2/16 vs. PEP)
5-Ian Colbert (Best of 11 on 1/27/16 vs. PRIN)
3-Ryan Lew (Best of 20 on 1/28/17 vs. HIU)
1-Ryan Blaich (10 on 3/5/16 vs. UCI)
1-Milosh Stojcic (10 on 1/23/16 at HNU)
1-Tanner Syftestad (10 on 1/7/15 at CUI)
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)
TRITONS AMONG STATISTICAL LEADERS
Through Feb. 26, Tanner Syftestad ranks sixth in the MPSF and seventh in D I-II in kills per set (4.13), and fifth in the MPSF and seventh nationally in points per set (4.80). He is also ninth in the MPSF in aces per set (0.31). Drew Sloane is eighth in the league at 1.06 blocks per set. Milosh Stojcic is eighth in the MPSF and 24th in the country in assists per set (9.12). Ryan Lew is eighth in the MPSF and 25th nationally in digs per set (2.17). Lew's 20-dig effort against Hope International on Jan. 28 is the sixth-best single-match total nationally (tied) and second in the MPSF.
STOJCIC INTO TOP 10
Junior setter Milosh Stojcic is 10th in career assists in the all-time UCSD record book. The Redondo Beach native now has 1428 assists. He surpassed the 1000 mark at UCLA on Jan. 14.
Tanner Syftestad's 31 kills against Hope International on Jan. 28 were the most by a UCSD player since Frank Fritsch's 33 in a four-set home win over Hawai'i on March 13, 2009 ... Ryan Lew's match-best 20 digs in that same contest were the most by a Triton since career leader Eric Leserman's 20 in a five-set home loss to Stanford on Feb. 3, 2007 ... The Tritons' 3-2 win at Concordia on Jan. 21 marked their first five-set victory since a home date with Princeton on Jan. 27, 2016 ... UCSD's 15.5 total team blocks against the Eagles are the most for the Tritons since they combined for 20.0 in another five-set triumph at USC on March 16, 2013.
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 is 1-8 in three-set matches, 2-2 in four sets and 2-1 in five-setters in 2017 ... 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 4-8 in season openers under Kevin Ring ... Devin Pontigon (1/9) and Ryan Lew (1/23, 1/30 and 2/6) have picked up Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Freshman of the Week honorable mentions this season ... 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 ... Of the Tritons' 16 dates, Pontigon had at least a share of the team high in kills in each of the first four, before Syftestad led the Tritons in the last 12, with the match high in eight ... 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 ... Five Tritons have made their college debut in true freshmen Ryan Lew, Bailey Militar, Devin Pontigon and Connor Walbrecht, 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 an 82-247 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 MATADORS
No. 12 CSUN (11-6, 4-6 MPSF) is coming off of a home split last week, falling in five sets to USC on Wednesday night before sweeping California Baptist on Friday. The Matadors are third nationally with a .351 hitting percentage. Dimitar Kalchev is the national leader at 0.76 aces per set. CSUN is 6-3 at home. Jeff Campbell is in his milestone 20th season in charge at his alma mater.
CSUN leads the all-time series, 73-8. UCSD posted a dominant 3-0 sweep (27-25, 25-13, 25-14) in this year's earlier meeting in La Jolla on Feb. 8, hitting better than .500 (.516) for just the second time since 2000. It ended a string of eight straight wins for the Matadors going back to a 3-1 Triton victory at The Matadome on March 16, 2012. That 2012 result snapped UCSD's 40-match losing streak to CSUN. UCSD fell 3-0 in Northridge and 3-1 in La Jolla in 2015, and 3-0 in both meetings a season ago.
ABOUT THE 49ERS
No. 2 Long Beach State (15-2, 11-1 MPSF) is a winner of eight straight, having dropped a solitary set during this stretch. The 49ers continue to top the MPSF standings, and are in fact the first team to lock up an MPSF Tournament berth. The Beach is a perfect 6-0 at home, and still hosts No. 6 UC Irvine on Wednesday night before welcoming in the Tritons. The 49ers are largely led by their sophomore trio of TJ DeFalco (4.16 kills per set), Kyle Ensing (3.32 kps) and setter Josh Tuaniga (nation-best 11.62 assists/set). They are first nationally in hitting (.381), kills per set (13.76) and assists per set (12.83). Seniors Amir Lugo-Rodriguez (.514, 1.39 blocks per set) and libero Andrew Sato (2.60 digs per set) are league leaders. Triton senior Josh Schmidt and LBSU's Davis Cannon were teammates at Irvine Valley College as freshmen in 2014. Alan Knipe is in his 14th season guiding his alma mater.
LBSU leads the all-time series, 64-5, with 10 straight wins. The 49ers have earned sweeps in each of the past eight meetings, including this year's earlier matchup in La Jolla on Feb. 11, and last season's road matchup in Long Beach on Feb. 17, when the 49ers were the top-ranked team in the country. The Beach has won 19 of the last 20, with UCSD's lone success a 3-2 decision at the Walter Pyramid on March 15, 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 concludes a season-long four-match road stretch, traveling to Columbus, Ohio, to play at top-ranked defending national champion Ohio State on Friday, March 10, before a neutral-site date with No. 11 Ball State on Saturday, March 11.