Photo by: Jimmy Gekas/Sideline Studios
Setter Amber Hawthorne moved into the fifth spot on UCSD's career assists list last week.
13th-Ranked Tritons Host UCSD Invitational
Release: Thursday 09/12/2013 

Match 5
California Baptist (2-2)
Friday, Sept. 13 • 2:30 p.m.
RIMAC Arena • La Jolla
Live Stats

Match 6
Point Loma (5-0)
Friday, Sept. 13 • 7:30 p.m.
RIMAC Arena • La Jolla
Live Stats

Match 7
No. 10 Fresno Pacific (3-0)
Saturday, Sept. 14 • 2:30 p.m.
RIMAC Arena • La Jolla
Live Stats

Match 8
Alaska Anchorage (5-3)
Saturday, Sept. 14 • 7:30 p.m.
RIMAC Arena • La Jolla
Live Stats

After playing in Cal State San Bernardino's Coyote Classic last week, it's the Tritons' turn to host a tournament as seven other squads will join them in La Jolla for the UCSD Invitational. A total of 16 matches, eight each day, will take place Sept. 13 and Sept. 14 at RIMAC Arena. Aside from the 13th-ranked Tritons, two other nationally-ranked teams will be in town, including No. 10 Fresno Pacific and No. 18 Cal State San Bernardino. Also in the field are Alaska Anchorage, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Dominguez Hills, California Baptist and Point Loma. Entering Friday's first day of action, the tournament field owns a combined 25-11 record so far in 2013. Fresno Pacific (3-0), Point Loma (5-0) and UC San Diego (4-0) come in undefeated. A full schedule of matches can be found here. All matches will be covered by live stats.

Since moving to NCAA Division II status in 2000, the Tritons have hosted the UCSD Invitational six times (2001, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2013). The team is 20-1 playing in its own tournament and is riding a 17-match win streak, their only loss coming against Regis on Aug. 25, 2001. In 2005, UCSD went 5-0 with five sweeps. The last time the Tritons hosted the UCSD Invitational was Sept. 4-5, 2009, with Alaska Anchorage, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal State L.A., Cal State San Bernardino, Mesa State, Northern Michigan and Saginaw Valley State. UCSD earned victories against Saginaw Valley, Northern Michigan, Mesa State and Alaska Anchorage.

UCSD kicked off its season with a perfect 4-0 showing at last week's Coyote Classic, hosted by Cal State San Bernardino. Adding to the perfection, the Tritons didn't drop a single set, winning all four match-ups in sweeping fashion. Victories were had against No. 24 Central Washington, No. 13 Regis, Harding and Seattle Pacific. Of the 10 teams competing, UCSD was the only one to go undefeated.

Junior middle blocker Sara McCutchan was named to the all-tournament team at last week's Coyote Classic. Over four matches, she led the Tritons in attack percentage (.343) and was second in kills (34), aces (6) and blocks (9). McCutchan turned in a match-high 12 kills against 13th-ranked Regis and a match-best five blocks versus No. 24 Central Washington.

After going 4-0 with wins over two ranked teams at the Coyote Classic last week, UCSD jumped from No. 22 to No. 13 in this week's AVCA national poll. The last time the Tritons were ranked higher was in the Sept. 26, 2011 poll, when they came in at No. 12. Currently, Tampa is No. 1, followed by Minnesota Duluth and Nebraska-Kearney. Two other CCAA teams can be found in the top 25 as Cal State San Bernardino is 18th and Sonoma State is 24th.

UCSD returns all but one player from last year's squad that went to the NCAA postseason for the seventh consecutive time. Back on the floor will be five full-time starters from 2012, including OH Danielle Dahle (La Mesa/Grossmont HS), MB Lauren Demos, S Amber Hawthorne, MB Sara McCutchan and OH Sophie Rowe, as well as primary libero Brittany Lombardi. Returners from the 2012 part-time starters list include OH Lizzy Andrews, MB Kameron Cooper and OPP Rachelle Kinney. The lone loss is OPP Sheridan Taylor, who decided not to play this year after getting the starting nod 13 times in 2012. For a complete roster and player bios, click here.

Three newbies to the Triton Family will be suiting up this season - OH Makensie Bates, OPP Caitlin Brenton and OH Stephanie Solich. Bates and Solich are true freshman, while Brenton is a junior transfer from Columbia University. All three are California natives.

UCSD head coach Ricci Luyties is in his fourth season leading the Tritons. Over his first three campaigns in La Jolla, he registered a 61-26 overall record, good for a .701 win percentage. Entering 2013, Luyties has paced UCSD to a 47-19 (.712) mark in CCAA play. Prior to coming to UCSD, Luyties spent six seasons as the head coach at Southern Mississippi. A two-time All-American setter and Hall of Fame member at UCLA, he helped the Bruins win four consecutive national titles between 1981 and 1984. UCLA posted an amazing 126-7 record, which included a pair of undefeated seasons, during Luyties' career. A two-time NCAA Most Valuable Player, his No. 11 UCLA jersey was retired in 1996. A member of the U.S. National Team from 1981-88, Luyties won a gold medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. On the beach, Luyties competed regularly on the AVP Tour and FIVB World Tour for 12 years, partnering with the likes of Karch Kiraly and Adam Johnson.

UCSD was picked to finish second in the 2013 CCAA standings by the league's coaches. Topping the poll was seven-time defending champion Cal State San Bernardino. Following the Tritons, in order, were Sonoma State, Cal State L.A., Chico State, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal State East Bay, San Francisco State, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Monterey Bay, Cal State Stanislaus and Humboldt State.

Danielle Dahle: AVCA West Region Freshman of the Year; Daktronics All-West Region Second Team; AVCA All-West Region Honorable Mention; All-CCAA First Team
Amber Hawthorne: All-CCAA Second Team
Sara McCutchan: Daktronics All-West Region Second Team; AVCA All-West Region Honorable Mention; All-CCAA Second Team
Sophie Rowe: All-CCAA Second Team

Amber Hawthorne's 1,686 career assists rank fifth in UCSD history. She moved into that spot in 2013 after totaling 81 helpers at the Coyote Classic Sept. 6-7. Danielle Dahle set a program single season mark in 2012 with her 1,257 attack attempts. Her 416 kills rank fifth. Three other Tritons posted top 10 single season numbers in 2012, including Brittany Lombardi (431 digs, sixth), Sara McCutchan (119 blocks, seventh) and Hawthorne (1,078 assists, ninth). Lombardi set a new UCSD single match record with 42 digs at Cal State Monterey Bay on Nov. 17.

California Baptist brings an even 2-2 record into the UCSD Invitational. The Lancers opened their season at Cal State Monterey Bay's Otter Classic last week, dropping matches against San Francisco State (0-3) and the host (2-3) and defeating Saint Martin's (3-1) and St. Martin's (3-0). Kim McCalmont is averaging 3.60 kills/set and Megan Glennie leads the Lancers with her 4.07 digs/set average.

Point Loma began its 2013 campaign by going 4-0 at its own Seaside Invitational Sept. 6-7. The Sea Lions downed Cal State Stanislaus (3-0), Montana State Billings (3-0), Cal State Dominguez Hills (3-2) and Texas A&M International (3-0). On Wednesday, Sept. 11, PLNU added to its win column with a 3-0 blanking of San Diego Christian in El Cajon. Heather Leavitt leads the team in kills (3.69/set), while Kelli LeClair is averaging a team-best 3.38 digs/set.

Fresno Pacific jumped into the top 10 of the AVCA national poll after going 3-0 last week at the Nanook Classic, hosted by Alaska Fairbanks. The Sunbirds earned victories over Colorado Christian (3-1), Humboldt State (3-2) and the host (3-0). Rupia Inck is putting down 3.67 kills/set and Hannah Butler is averaging 6.42 digs/set.

Alaska Anchorage has already played eight matches and comes to La Jolla with a 5-3 record. Most recently, the Seawolves swept Colorado Christian at home on Sept. 9. Prior to that, UAA hosted the Springhill Suites Invitational, going 3-1 with wins against American International (3-0), Texas A&M Kingsville (3-0) and Notre Dame de Namur (3-1) and a loss versus Augustana (1-3). The Seawolves opened their season on the islands, downing Chaminade (3-0) and losing against BYU-Hawaii (0-3) and Hawaii Hilo (0-3). Julia Mackey leads the team offensively, averaging 3.35 kills/set, while Quinn Barker holds a 4.85 digs/set average.

The Tritons hold a 40-15 (.727) all-time record against the four teams they will face at the UCSD Invitational (7-0 vs. California Baptist, 24-13 vs. Point Loma, 6-2 vs. Fresno Pacific and 3-0 vs. Alaska Anchorage).

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Looking ahead to next week, the Tritons begin CCAA play as well as a seven-match road swing, the team's longest stretch away from La Jolla during the 2013 regular season. UCSD will be at San Francisco State on Friday, Sept. 20, and at Sonoma State on Saturday, Sept. 21. The road marathon ends at Humboldt State on Oct. 5. Following this week's UCSD Invitational, the Tritons don't play again at RIMAC Arena until they host Cal State East Bay on Friday, Oct. 11.


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