IRVINE, Calif. - University of California San Diego senior tri-captain Tanner Syftestad was given the honor Monday of becoming the first-ever Big West Conference Men's Volleyball Player of the Week.
The opposite hitter from Sacramento (Chico State/El Camino Fundamental HS) earned the historic distinction for the week of Jan. 1-7, as he starred for UC San Diego (2-0) to start the Big West's inaugural season sponsoring men's volleyball.
Syftestad achieved match highs in kills, putting down 20-plus on back-to-back nights, in two season-opening wins at UCLA's Wooden Classic Tournament. In Friday's five-setter over McKendree (IL), he had 27 kills on .365 hitting, including 11 alone in the Tritons' 29-27 third-set victory that gave them a 2-1 lead in the contest. He added five digs, five blocks, two first-set aces and two assists. In Saturday's four-set decision over King (TN), he went for another 22 kills, again on efficient .356 hitting, with seven digs, four blocks, two more aces and an assist.
Syftestad hit at a .361 clip over 97 total attacks on the weekend, totaling 49 kills, or a remarkable 5.44 per set, and averaging 1.33 digs and 1.0 blocks per set to boot. The third-time team captain has the Tritons out to their first 2-0 start to a season in 22 years, since 1996.
In UC San Diego's 25-year history in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) before moving over, only three Tritons earned that league's weekly recognition, most recently in 2012. Syftestad was Off the Block's inaugural Division II National Player of the Year and an All-MPSF Second Team selection a year ago, also garnering VolleyballMag.com All-America honorable mention after averaging 4.21 kills per set.
Through this first weekend of Big West action, Syftestad leads the league with his 5.44 kills-per-set average, and his 6.39 points per set. He ranks in the top 10 in hitting percentage (.361), service aces per set (0.44) and blocks per set (1.00).
Unlike the MPSF's solitary weekly honor, the Big West awards a Defensive Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week, which went to UC Irvine's sophomore middle blocker Scott Stadick and Long Beach State middle Simon Anderson. The Tritons' Bryan Zhu (San Diego/Rancho Bernardo HS) and Wyatt Harrison were nominated.
UC San Diego contests its 2018 home opener this Thursday, Jan. 11, against UC Merced. First serve at RIMAC Arena on North Campus in La Jolla is set for 6 p.m. UCSD students are admitted free. Those unable to attend can tune in to the high-definition broadcast, free of charge, on UCSDtritons.tv.