LA JOLLA, Calif. - With their highest ranking of the year, the Tritons will play at un-ranked Cal State Northridge Thursday and at No. 5 Long Beach State Saturday to close out their regular season road schedule.
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GET THE PICTURE
The eight-team MPSF Tournament picture is almost clear as there's just one more spot up for grabs. Eighth-place UCLA is 8-10 with four more matches remaining. Ninth-place Pepperdine is 5-13 with four matches left and tenth-place UCSD is 5-14 with three matches remaining. That means any UCLA win or any UCSD loss will eliminate the Tritons from the post season. The teams to have already clinched a spot are: USC, BYU, Stanford, Hawai'i, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State. Cal State Northridge and Pacific have already been knocked out of the running for a tourney slot.
Here's a week-by-week look at UCSD in the 2011 AVCA poll:
|Jan. 10||Receiving votes|
MOVIN' ON UP
UCSD's ranking of 11 in the latest AVCA national poll is its highest of the season. In fact, it's the Tritons' highest placing since 2010 when they were 11th in the Jan. 11 poll. The best ever ranking for UCSD? Eighth in 2009.
Service Aces: 4th, 1.20/set
Opponent Hitting Percentage: 6th, .286
Blocks: 8th, 2.18/set
Kills: 9th, 12.27/set
Assists: 9th, 11.62/set
Digs: 9th, 7.98/set
Hitting Percentage: 10th, .246
Service Aces: 16th, 1.20/set
Assists: 17th, 11.63/set
Kills: 17th, 12.27/set
Blocks: 21st, 2.18/set
Digs: 24th, 7.98/set
Hitting Percentage: 27th, .242
INSHANE IN THE MEMBRANE
Shane Veiga had a match-high 12.5 points to lead UCSD to its upset at No. 5 UCLA on Apr. 1. Veiga wasn't fooling when he totaled eight kills, an ace, four digs and a career-high six blocks against the Bruins. It was Veiga's top match in terms of point production since he had 12.5 at Stanford on Feb. 11.
UCLA NICKED BY IORFINO
Freshman outside Nick Iorfino also played a big part in UCSD's upset over UCLA last week in Los Angeles. He put down a match-high 11 kills and added two assists and four digs. He's played in 53 of 96 sets and is averaging 2.11 kills, 1.09 digs and 2.35 points per set. Iorfino posted a career-high 16 kills at Pepperdine on Mar. 12.
BRUNSTING STEPS UP
Freshman Mike Brunsting got the start at setter for both the UC Santa Barbara and UCLA matches last week as Phil Bannan was out with an ankle injury. In the 3-0 upset over the Bruins, Brunsting led UCSD to a .329 attack percentage with a career-high 31 assists. He also had three kills, an ace, five digs and two blocks. His three kills came on five attempts with no errors, good for a .600 attack percentage. Against the Gauchos, Brunsting had 21 assists, two kills, an ace, four digs and a block.
CHASE THE ACE
He already became UCSD's all-time leader in both assists and service aces earlier this season, and senior setter Phil Bannan is on the verge of setting another school record. He currently has 46 aces this season, just nine shy of topping the single season record of 54 by Eric Mai in 1997.
Sophomore outside hitter Carl Eberts has recorded 10 or more kills in 16 of his last 19 matches. Most recently, he had 10 at UCLA, hitting .421 with two errors in 19 swings. Eberts is one of just two Tritons that have started all 26 matches this season (Calvin Ross is the other). He leads the team in kills, kills/set, attack attempts, reception attempts, digs, points and points/set.
SCOUTING THE MATADORS
Cal State Northridge has dropped its last five matches and will not be playing in the MPSF Tournament after finishing as an NCAA semifinalist in 2010. The Matadors enter Thursday's match with a 6-20 overall record and a 4-15 mark in the MPSF. Most recently, CSUN dropped a pair at Hawai'i. As a team, Northridge is hitting .241 compared to .343 for opponents. Tanner Nua is averaging a team-high 2.66 kills/set while Kaleo Baxter leads the team defensively, averaging 2.21 digs/set.
The Tritons and Matadors have already met twice this season with CSUN winning both. On Feb. 19 in La Jolla, un-ranked Northridge upset No. 12 UCSD, 3-1. The Tritons won the opening set and fell in the next three. Both teams ended up hitting poorly (UCSD .116, CSUN .171) as a total of 29 blocks were put up, 16.5 of those by the Matadors. Carl Eberts led UC San Diego with 13 kills while Phil Bannan had 10 digs. Three Matadors collected 10+ kills including Tanner Nua (13), Greg Faulkner (11) and Brandon Lebrock (11).
The teams also met way back on Jan. 7 at UC Santa Barbara's Collegiate Invitational when UCSD was un-ranked and CSUN was 12th. UCSD took the first set but CSUN won the next three to win. The Matadors hit .330 to the Tritons' .235. Both teams committed 21 service errors and UCSD held a slight 12-11 edge in blocks. Shane Veiga had a match-high 19 kills and Calvin Ross added 10 for UCSD. Ross also had six blocks. Chase Frishman had a match-best 11 digs. For CSUN, Drew Staker had 15 kills and Nua posted 13.
SCOUTING THE 49ers
Long Beach lost its last two matches, both against BYU in Provo, but had already clinched a spot in the MPSF Tournament. The 49ers are out-hitting opponents, .277-.260. Jim Baughman by far leads the squad in kills, averaging 3.46/set. He's led the team in kills in 16 of 24 matches played and also boasts a team-high 28 aces. Kirk Francis is averaging 2.32 digs/set and Antwain Aguillard has totaled a team-best 104 blocks. Mike Klipsch is averaging 9.75 assists/set.
UC San Diego and Long Beach State met in La Jolla on Feb. 18. Like the matches against Northridge, UCSD took a 1-0 lead before dropping the next three sets. The 49ers out-hit the Tritons, .319-.231, and held a hefty 11-4 advantage in blocks. Carl Eberts had 11 kills and Shane Veiga had 10 for UCSD. Antwain Aguillard and Taylor Crabb each posted 11 kills for the Beach.
After completing this four-match road swing this Saturday, the Tritons return to RIMAC Arena on Saturday, Apr. 16 to close out the regular season against UC Irvine. UCSD upset UCI, 3-1, in Irvine on Jan. 12, the Tritons first MPSF match of the year. It will be Senior Night as Phil Bannan, Joel Davidson, Calvin Ross and Paul Spitsen will suit up for the final home match of their careers.
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