The UC San Diego men's volleyball team heads back on the road for two more Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) tilts this week. The Tritons fly to Honolulu, Hawaii on Thursday, Jan. 23. They will twice play against 10th-ranked Hawai'i at the Stan Sheriff Center, on Friday, Jan. 24, at 9 p.m. PT (7 p.m. local) and Sunday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m. PT (5 p.m. local).
Once again this season, all UCSD home matches inside RIMAC Arena feature a live online video stream for free, with public-address audio. A majority of road matches will also have video, including Friday's meeting only with Hawai'i. Both matches in Honolulu can be listened to via an online audio broadcast. All contests, home and away, have live stats. Fans can access live coverage from the Schedule/Results page. Follow @UCSDtritons for in-match Twitter updates throughout the season, and @HawaiiAthletics this weekend.
ABOUT THE RAINBOW WARRIORS
Hawai'i (3-2, 1-1 MPSF) comes off of a home split against then-fourth-ranked league co-favorite Long Beach State last week. The Rainbow Warriors were first swept by the 49ers on Thursday, prior to rallying from a 2-1 deficit to take a 3-2 decision the next night. Junior opposite Brook Sedore led Hawai'i by averaging 5.00 kills per set for the series, including a season-high 24 kills and 11 digs on Friday. Sedore put down 50 total kills in the Rainbow Warriors' two wins inside RIMAC Arena at the end of the 2013 season. Charlie Wade is in his fifth season in charge at UH.
UH leads the all-time series, 45-4 and swept last year's set in La Jolla, 3-1 and 3-2. The sides had split the previous eight meetings between 2009-12. After UH had won the first 39 match-ups, the Tritons swept the 2009 series in La Jolla on Mar. 13-14, 3-1 and 3-2. The teams split at RIMAC Arena in 2011, with UCSD winning in five sets on Jan. 28 and UH taking a 3-1 decision the following night. In 2012, the Tritons triumphed for the first time ever in Honolulu, 3-0 on Jan. 6, after the Rainbow Warriors had defeated them in straight sets the day before in the season opener for both squads. Carl Eberts had a match-high 14 kills in the Triton victory.
UCSD is in the midst of a season-opening stretch of nine of its first 11 matches away from home ... After being listed among several teams receiving votes just outside of the top 15 in the first three AVCA national polls, including the preseason edition, UCSD does not appear this week ... UCSD was picked to finish 12th in the 2014 MPSF race in the conference's preseason coaches' poll, with reigning MPSF champion BYU and 2013 league runner-up Long Beach State joint favorites ... Senior setter Mike Brunsting (Poway/Francis Parker School) is No. 8 on the all-time Triton list with 1,538 career assists ... A program-high seven Tritons earned MPSF All-Academic distinction in 2013, including returners Brunsting, now a two-time selection, junior Garrett Dempsey and senior Fred Stahl ... Brunsting is the only current UCSD player with a double-double, with two for his career (1/14/12 vs. NJIT: 55 assists and 12 digs; 2/8/13 at UOP: 46 assists and 15 digs).
Senior opposite Johl Awerkamp has a team-best two double-digit kills performances on the year, including a season-high 18 vs. BYU (1/18), and 14 such matches now for his Triton career. Awerkamp earlier produced a career-high five total blocks at USC (1/10). Remaining efforts with double-digit kills have come from redshirt freshman middle blocker Mathew Schnitzer (13) and senior outside hitter Nick Iorfino (12), both also against BYU.
LAST TIME OUT
UCSD dropped a tough five-set decision at California Baptist on Thursday, Jan. 16, falling 20-18 in the final frame after holding a trio of match points. The Tritons had fought back from 1-0 and 2-1 set deficits to force the decider, with three players eclipsing the 10-kill mark. UCSD was unable to slow down a red-hot BYU squad in its home opener the following night, losing 3-0 as the then-eighth-ranked Cougars served 15 aces.
REPEAT BEST-EVER SHOWING AT ASICS INVITE
For the second straight year and fourth time in the last five, UCSD opened its season at the annual UC Santa Barbara Asics Invitational. With a format change and 10 teams present for the 50th installment, the Tritons came away with a second successive best-ever fourth-place effort. UCSD went 2-2 in best-of-three-set pool-play exhibitions on Jan. 3, with those contests not counting against overall records. The Tritons were the only squad to take a set that day off of eventual tourney champion Long Beach State. On tiebreakers, UCSD placed second in Pool B and matched up with eighth-ranked host UCSB in the third-place match on Jan. 4, losing 3-0. Awerkamp was named to the All-Tournament Team. Eight Tritons made their college debuts.
Team tri-captains for the 2014 season were designated as Awerkamp, Brunsting and fourth-year junior Scot Metzger. All three veteran Tritons are first-time captains.
UCSD returns 10 players, including two redshirt freshmen and one injury redshirt (Metzger), from the 2013 campaign. Among the contingent back are Brunsting and Dempsey at the setter position. Awerkamp and Iorfino are two of UCSD's top attackers. Stahl was 12th in the league at 1.04 blocks per set as a junior middle in 2013.
The 2014 roster includes 12 new players to the program, including 11 freshmen. Six members of that group have earned their collegiate debuts thus far. Freshman middle blocker Jackson Wopat made his first appearance in his hometown (Dos Pueblos HS) at UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 4. He is the younger brother of Carly Wopat, who completed her senior season at Stanford in December as a two-time AVCA first-team All-American. In addition to Brunsting, one other San Diego native is freshman middle Bryan Zhu, a graduate of Rancho Bernardo High School.
HEAD COACH KEVIN RING
Kevin Ring is in his ninth season in charge at his alma mater. The 2009 MPSF Coach of the Year, he has a 66-169 overall record at the helm. Before being elevated to the head-coaching position on June 15, 2005, Ring spent the previous nine years as an assistant for the UCSD men's squad. He got his start at UCSD 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 USA 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, as he has been aiding women's national team head coach Karch Kiraly and his staff in preparing Team USA for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
UCSD Athletics has partnered with Advanced-Online to provide a web-based, on-demand option for UCSD apparel and merchandise. Fans have access to over 600 products that can be processed and shipped within 24 hours. Visit the site at UCSDTritonsGear.com.
After returning to the mainland, UCSD will host UCLA on Thursday, Jan. 30. First serve at RIMAC Arena is set for 7 p.m. The Tritons will then make the short trip north to take on two-time defending national champion UC Irvine on Friday, Jan. 31, also at 7 p.m.