Calif. - The Ricci Luyties era officially begins this week, as the
eighth-ranked UC San Diego women's volleyball team opens the 2010 season at the
Phoenix Inn GNAC Conference Challenge in Monmouth, Ore.
The new look Tritons will play four times in two days
beginning with a matchup against No. 24 Alaska Anchorage Friday at 10:00 a.m.
UCSD will then face Central Washington Friday at 5:00 p.m., before clashing
with Western Washington and tournament host Western Oregon on Saturday. Those
match times are slated for 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., respectively.
The story at the outset of the season is definitely Luyties, who enters his
first year at the helm after Tom Black left to take the head job at Loyola
Marymount last winter. Following a successful stint at Southern Mississippi --
where he led the Golden Eagles to the program's first Conference USA title in
2009 -- Luyties inherits a team that went 29-3 a year ago and finished with an
impressive 20-2 tally in the California Collegiate Athletic Association
"From what I've seen in practice so far, I think we can be really good this
season," Luyties said. "Obviously we want to compete for a CCAA Championship and,
if we stay healthy, I think we can go deep into the tournament when the
postseason rolls around."
The Tritons, ranked eighth in the current AVCA
preseason poll, will be without the services of All-Americans Sylvia Schmidt
and Elaine Chen in 2010, but have plenty of pieces to fill the void. Roxanne Brunsting, who also earned AVCA All-American accolades as a libero last season,
will be moving to outside hitter to start her junior campaign. Brunsting
tallied a total of 494 digs in 2009, the second highest total in program
history. Junior Janessa Werhane has been handling libero duties thus far.
Also returning in 2010 is outside hitter Katie Condon and opposite Hillary Williamson, both of whom put together tremendous sophomore
campaigns a year ago. Condon was second on the team with 251 kills, while
Williamson's 221 total ranked third. Luyties also has three talented middle
blockers returning this season in seniors Audrey Green and Cara Simonsen, and
sophomore Julia Freidenberg. Led by Freidenberg's 52, the trio combined for a
total of 113 blocks in 2009.
UCSD will welcome in a talented crop of newcomers this season, as well, including
true freshmen Lizzy Andrews, Rachelle Kinney, Brittany Lombardi, Sara McCutchan, Edrina Nazaradeh and Sally Yingst.
The Phoenix Inn GNAC Challenge will feature a total
of eight teams, including four that are ranked in the top 25 in the preseason
poll. Along with UCSD and Alaska Anchorage, No. 2 Cal State San Bernardino and
No. 10 Metro State will also be competing in Oregon.
"This weekend will definitely be a good test for us,"
Luyties continued. "If we come prepared and we're ready to play, I think we'll
be in good shape. Every team we'll face has talent, so we just need to play
like we're capable of playing."
Over the past six seasons, UCSD has gone an
impressive 38-5 in early season tournament play. The Tritons went 8-0 in nonconference
action in 2009, posting perfect 4-0 records at both the Wildcat Open in
Michigan and the Triton Invitational at RIMAC.
Following this weekend's contests, the Tritons will return to La Jolla to begin
CCAA play next weekend. UCSD will host Humboldt State in its home opener on
September 10, before entertaining Sonoma State the following night.