The University of California San Diego men's volleyball team concludes the 2017 season after three more matches in the coming days, including a final home pair this weekend. The Tritons (7-17, 3-13 MPSF) were eliminated from Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Tournament contention following their five-set loss at Stanford last Saturday, April 1. They contest the final two MPSF matches in the program's 25-year MPSF history this Friday, April 7, against No. 8 Pepperdine (9-10, 7-9 MPSF), and Saturday, April 8, versus No. 9 Stanford (12-11, 7-9 MPSF) on Senior Night. Both first serves are slated for 7 p.m. inside RIMAC Arena on North Campus. UCSD then heads to Riverside for its season finale at Division II and MPSF rival California Baptist (7-19, 2-14 MPSF) on Wednesday, April 12. That's another 7 p.m. start, at Van Dyne Gym, but the match is a non-conference affair. The Tritons are 5-6 at home and 2-11 away from La Jolla. UCSD has as many overall wins in 2017 as the previous two years combined, and its most MPSF victories since notching four in 2013.
General admission tickets for home volleyball matches are $8 for adults and $5 for visiting students, seniors (65 and older), children (7 and older) and UCSD Alumni Association members. UCSD students and kids under seven years of age are admitted free. Tickets are available at the main entrance to RIMAC Arena on the night of the match. Parking permits are required on the UCSD campus on weeknights. The closest lot to RIMAC is the adjacent Hopkins Parking Structure. Permits can be purchased there at machines by the elevator. Parking is free on Saturdays.
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. Ken Grosse and former Triton Dan Thomassen (1994-97) are on the call for this final weekend. 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 the one at CBU. Fans can access live coverage from the Schedule/Results page, or by clicking on the links above. Follow @UCSDtritons for in-match Twitter updates this weekend, and @cbulancers on April 12.
SENIOR NIGHT SATURDAY
Four outstanding Tritons will be recognized prior to the 7 p.m. first serve against No. 9 Stanford this Saturday, April 8, on Senior Night at RIMAC Arena. Those four are fourth-year standouts Shayne Beamer and tri-captains Ian Colbert and Calvin Manchenko, and second-year transfer Josh Schmidt.
END OF AN ERA...FAREWELL TO THE MPSF
This Saturday will also mark the final match of UCSD Men's Volleyball's 25-year run 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 next January. 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.
NATIONAL EXPOSURE FOR TRITONS
Last Saturday's five-set thriller at Stanford marked the fourth and final time this season that UCSD appeared on national television, as the match aired on Pac-12 Bay Area. The Tritons were 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. 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 in straight sets at No. 8 Pepperdine last Thursday, March 30, before getting edged in a five-set thriller at No. 9 Stanford in front of a national television audience on Saturday, April 1. Bay Area product Ian Colbert was spectacular against the Cardinal, leading three Tritons in double-figure kills with 16, to go along with seven digs and a pair of service aces. Two of his kills came on set point in the second and third games, before Stanford rallied. Nathan Thalken produced career highs of 11 kills and five blocks, and Bryan Zhu added a season-high 10 kills to five blocks of his own, both off the bench. A third reserve, Xander Jimenez, contributed nine kills, seven digs and three blocks. Milosh Stojcic dished out 46 assists.
TRITONS AMONG THE POLLS
UCSD was receiving votes outside of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I-II Top 15 Poll for three straight weeks and the first time since Jan. 13, 2014, before the March 7 edition. The Tritons remain a season-best No. 2 for a sixth successive week in the first-year Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Division II National Coaches Poll. UCSD is No. 2 nationally in strength of schedule and No. 20 in RPI.
THE MOST DIFFICULT OF BACK-TO-BACKS
UCSD lost 3-0 at No. 2 Long Beach State on March 3, and at No. 1 Ohio State on March 10. The prior time that the Tritons had to play the top two teams in the land in consecutive matches, actually was only just a year ago, both away from home as well. UCSD lost 3-0 at No. 2 UCLA on Feb. 13, 2016, and then 3-0 at No. 1 LBSU on Feb. 17.
The come-from-behind, four-set triumph at USC on 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 has had an exceptional junior year, and at a career-high 349, he has the most kills in a single season by a Triton since Frank Fritsch's 412 in 2010. He has put himself in a position to become the first UCSD player to earn any form of MPSF postseason recognition since Carl Eberts and Chase Frishman garnered All-MPSF honorable mentions in 2012. Over a remarkable five-match stretch from Jan. 20-Feb. 4, Syftestad 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 achieved at least a share of the team high in kills in 19 consecutive contests, with the match high in 10, before the April 1 loss at Stanford. Syftestad's 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. His career-best 56 attacks in that same match, is tied for No. 5 nationally in 2017. His 29 kills over California Baptist (3/14) and 55 attacks versus Concordia (3/17) both share the top spot for a four-set contest.
STOJCIC AND SYFTESTAD MOVING UP RANKS
Junior setter Milosh Stojcic is eighth in career assists in the all-time UCSD record book, having moved past Garrett Dempsey (1484) on March 3 at Long Beach State and Matt Breja (1602) on March 17 at home against Concordia. The Redondo Beach native has 1693 assists. He surpassed the 1000 mark at UCLA on Jan. 14. With his seventh of eight kills at Stanford on April 1, Tanner Syftestad moved into the No. 10 spot in program history, now at 806 ahead of Adam Toren (804). He is also ninth in career attacks (2064).
SYFTESTAD'S KILLER INSTINCT
Junior opposite Tanner Syftestad's kills accounted for UCSD's final two points in the first four wins during its five-match success streak from Jan. 21-Feb. 8, as well as the March 17 home triumph over Concordia. He also produced the decisive kill on match point in another recent four-set home decision over California Baptist (3/14).
16-Tanner Syftestad (Best of 31 on 1/28 vs. HIU)
5-Ian Colbert (Best of 16 on 4/1 at STAN)
2-Shayne Beamer (Best of 13 on 3/17 vs. CUI)
2-Devin Pontigon (Best of 14 on 1/7 vs. GCU)
1-Alec Flowers (10 on 1/20 vs. UCI)
1-Nathan Thalken (11 on 4/1 at STAN)
1-Bryan Zhu (10 on 4/1 at STAN)
24-Milosh Stojcic (Best of 56 on 1/28 vs. HIU; 21 with 20-plus and 13 with 30-plus)
36-Tanner Syftestad (Best of 31 on 1/28/17 vs. HIU)
15-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)
4-Shayne Beamer (Best of 14 on 1/10/15 at GCU)
2-Devin Pontigon (14 on 1/7/17 vs. GCU)
2-Bryan Zhu (Best of 11 on 3/2/16 vs. PEP)
1-Luke La Mont (12 on 1/30/15 at BYU)
1-Josh Schmidt (10 on 1/27/16 vs. PRIN)
1-Nathan Thalken (11 on 4/1/17 at STAN)
7-Ian Colbert (Best of 13 on 3/14/17 vs. CBU)
5-Ryan Lew (Best of 20 on 1/28/17 vs. HIU)
3-Milosh Stojcic (Best of 11 on 3/11/17 vs. BSU)
1-Ryan Blaich (10 on 3/5/16 vs. UCI)
1-Xander Jimenez (11 on 3/14/17 vs. CBU)
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 10 double-doubles (three in 2017):
Ian Colbert (5)
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)
3/17/17 vs. Concordia (12 kills, 12 digs)
Milosh Stojcic (3)
1/23/16 at Holy Names (31 assists, 10 digs)
3/11/17 vs. Ball State (16 assists, 11 digs)
3/17/17 vs. Concordia (52 assists, 10 digs)
Ryan Blaich (1)
3/5/16 vs. UC Irvine (49 assists, 10 digs)
Tanner Syftestad (1)
1/7/15 at Concordia (12 kills, 10 digs)
TRITONS AMONG STATISTICAL LEADERS
Through April 2, Tanner Syftestad ranks third in the MPSF and fourth in D I-II in kills per set (4.15), first in the MPSF and second nationally in attacks per set (9.32), and third in the MPSF and fifth in the country in points per set (4.87). He is also eighth in the MPSF and 28th nationally in aces per set (0.32). Milosh Stojcic is eighth in the MPSF and 25th in the country in assists per set (9.13). Ryan Lew is ninth in the MPSF and 33rd nationally in digs per set (2.01). Lew's 20-dig effort against Hope International on Jan. 28 is the eighth-best single-match total nationally (tied) and third in the MPSF. As a team, UCSD is eighth in the MPSF and 18th in the land at 2.16 blocks per set.
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 home 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.
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 1-12 in three-set matches, 4-3 in four sets and 2-2 in five-setters in 2017 ... Of the Tritons' 24 dates, Devin Pontigon had at least a share of the team high in kills in each of the first four, before Tanner Syftestad led the Tritons in the next 19, with the match high in 10 ... UCSD's schedule features 13 of 27 matches at home, as well as last week's 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 ... 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 ... 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 ... 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 84-253 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 WAVES
No. 8 Pepperdine (9-10, 7-9 MPSF) is tied for sixth in the league standings with No. 9 Stanford and clinched its MPSF Tournament berth over the weekend. The Waves are assured of a road quarterfinal on Saturday, April 15. Pepperdine is coming off of its straight-set home victory over UCSD last Thursday, March 30, and is 4-5 away from Malibu in 2017. The Waves are led by redshirt sophomore outside hitter David Wieczorek (3.73 kills per set). They pace the MPSF in digs per set (9.18), and will wrap the regular season at No. 5 UC Irvine this Saturday. Legendary head coach Marv Dunphy is in his 34th season in charge at his alma mater.
Pepperdine leads the all-time series, 49-3, and has won 11 straight since a 3-2 Triton triumph in Malibu on March 12, 2011, including a 3-0 decision (27-25, 25-20, 25-15) in this season's earlier meeting at Firestone Fieldhouse just this past Thursday, March 30. The Waves had posted eight 3-0 sweeps in a row, including last year's first meeting in Malibu (1/20), before a five-set affair in La Jolla on March 2, 2016. UCSD previously took both ends of the 2010 season series.
ABOUT THE CARDINAL
No. 9 Stanford (12-11, 7-9 MPSF) is tied for sixth in the league standings with No. 8 Pepperdine, and locked up its MPSF Tournament entry with Saturday's five-set home triumph over UCSD. The Cardinal had dropped four straight, all in league play, prior to that contest. They will thus play a road MPSF quarterfinal on Saturday, April 15. Stanford is 7-5 away from home, and is at No. 5 UC Irvine this Friday night before heading further south into La Jolla. John Kosty, the 2010 AVCA Division I-II National Coach of the Year, is in his 11th season in charge. Stanford won the 2010 national title inside its own Maples Pavilion.
Stanford leads the all-time series, 48-3, and has won the last 12 meetings, including Saturday's 3-2 (25-12, 23-25, 22-25, 25-23, 15-11) thriller at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal swept the two 2016 matchups and took both in 2015, 3-1 at RIMAC Arena and 3-0 in Palo Alto. Set scores in La Jolla (2/14) were 25-23, 22-25, 25-13 and 25-18 as the Tritons levelled matters after two games, but ran out of steam, with the Cardinal opening up the third with seven consecutive points. UCSD last topped Stanford, 3-0, at Maples Pavilion on Feb. 11, 2011, when the Tritons were ranked No. 12 and defending national champion Stanford was No. 4. Scores were 25-18, 30-28 and 25-16, with UCSD in control throughout, hitting .477 as a team to just .182 for Stanford. Former standout outside hitter Carl Eberts, a sophomore at the time, produced a match-high 15 kills.
ABOUT THE LANCERS
California Baptist (7-19, 2-14 MPSF) is behind UCSD in last place in the MPSF standings, and also out of postseason contention heading into three final dates. A 10-match losing skid, which included a 3-1 home loss to the Tritons on March 14, was followed up by four consecutive wins, though the Lancers did fall in their most recent time on the court, 3-2 versus UCLA on Saturday. CBU has a home-and-home series with No. 11 USC on Thursday and Saturday prior to welcoming UCSD into Riverside, where the Lancers are 4-8 in 2017. Derek Schmitt is in his second season as the head coach at CBU, which is in its fifth year in the MPSF.
CBU leads the all-time series, 22-9, and had won four straight the last two years prior to UCSD's 3-1 triumph in La Jolla in the first meeting this season back on March 14. The Lancers took both in 2016, 3-1 in La Jolla (2/5) and 3-0 in Riverside (4/1). They won twice in 2015 as well, 3-0 in Riverside and 3-1 in La Jolla. The teams split their first two sets in 2013 and 2014 after becoming MPSF rivals, with each side winning twice on its home court. In 2014, both tilts went to a fifth game, as well as the 2013 date in La Jolla. UCSD was swept 3-0 in Riverside on March 1, 2013.
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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!