at San Francisco State (5-3, 0-0)
Friday, Sept. 20 • 7:00 p.m.
The Swamp • San Francisco
at No. 18 Sonoma State (7-1, 0-0)
Saturday, Sept. 21 • 7:00 p.m.
The Wolves' Den • Rohnert Park
UCSD is 20-6 during the opening week of California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play since joining the league in 2000. The team's last loss on opening week came on Sept. 14, 2012, a 3-0 defeat against Cal State Dominguez Hills in La Jolla. The only other season in which UCSD opened league play against San Francisco State and Sonoma State was in 2001, also on the road. The Tritons took down SSU, 3-1, on Sept. 7, and swept SFSU on Sept. 8.
This week's contests at San Francisco State and Sonoma State kick off a seven-match road swing for the Tritons, the longest stretch the team will be away from La Jolla during the regular season. RIMAC Arena won't host its next match until Oct. 11 when Cal State East Bay is in town. UCSD played its first eight matches on the road last season, but only two sites were involved - Phoenix (Grand Canyon Invitational) and Rohnert Park (Seawolf Spike). The Tritons have never played seven consecutive away CCAA matches.
The Tritons went 4-0 in UCSD Invitational play last week, topping California Baptist (3-1), Point Loma (3-0), No. 10 Fresno Pacific (3-1) and Alaska Anchorage (3-0). They now hold a 24-1 overall record in their own tourney, which includes a 21-match win streak. UCSD's perfect record last week made it 8-0 in tournament play this season as the Tritons won all four of their match-ups the week prior at Cal State San Bernardino's Coyote Classic.
Junior middle blocker Sara McCutchan was named MVP of the UCSD Invitational and sophomore outside hitter Sophie Rowe joined her on the all-tournament team. Among all players in the tourney, McCutchan was second in hitting percentage (.436) and fourth in kills per set (3.50), while Rowe ranked sixth in kills per set (3.29) and posted two double-doubles. McCutchan is two-for-two on being selected to all-tournament teams this season, also garnering recognition at the Coyote Classic.
For the second-straight week, UCSD improved its standing in the AVCA national poll, jumping from 13th to No. 8. The last time the Tritons were ranked that high was in the 2010 preseason poll, also coming in eighth. The last time they were ranked higher was in the final poll of 2009 at seventh. Currently, Minnesota Duluth is ranked first, followed by Concordia-St. Paul and Tampa. Two other CCAA teams are in the AVCA's top 25, including Sonoma State at 18 and Cal State San Bernardino at 22. Cal State Dominguez Hills is receiving votes.
The Tritons are one of 22 teams in the nation that are undfeated as of Sept. 16 ... UCSD's 2011 campaign got off to a 9-0 start, matching the best start to a season in the team's history ... UCSD has won 24 of 26 sets played so far this year ... Four Tritons have recorded a combined 12 double-doubles, including Danielle Dahle (5) (La Mesa/Grossmont HS), Sophie Rowe (3), Amber Hawthorne (2) and Heidi Sierks (2) ... Sophie Rowe's 20.5 points vs. Fresno Pacific (9/14) were a team season-high ... This is the second-straight week that the Tritons have squared off against Seawolves as they played Alaska Anchorage last week in La Jolla.
As a team, UCSD ranks eighth nationally in both kills (14.65/set) and assists (13.58/set) and 23rd in digs (18.31/set). Individually, Sara McCutchan is 26th in hitting percentage (.396) and Kameron Cooper ranks 44th in blocks (1.12/set).
HEAD COACH RICCI LUYTIES
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.
WHAT DO THE COACHES THINK?
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.
ABOUT THE GATORS
San Francisco State opens its home season this week with a 5-3 record. The Gators went 2-2 at the Seawolf Spike in Rohnert Park last weekend, defeating Dominican and Montana State-Billings in three sets while losing to Hawaii Pacific in four and #12 Western Washington in three. SFSU's season began Sept. 7-8 at the Otter Classic in Seaside, where it posted a 3-1 record, downing California Baptist (3-0) and Dominican (3-2) and splitting against Academy of Art (2-3, 3-0). Meagan Wright is averaging a team-high 3.2 kills per set, while Jessica Nicerio is digging 4.28 balls per set. SFSU hosts No. 22 Cal State San Bernardino Saturday night.
ABOUT THE SERIES
UCSD is 19-4 all-time against San Francisco State. The Gators won both match-ups in 2012 in three sets.
ABOUT THE SEAWOLVES
Sonoma State, which jumped to No. 18 in this week's national poll, brings a 7-1 record into the week. SSU went 4-0 at its Seawolf Spike last weekend, defeating Dominican (3-0), Hawaii Pacific (3-0), No. 12 Western Washington (3-1) and Montana State Billings (3-0). Sonoma opened its season with a 3-1 mark at the Coyote Classic, posting wins against Fort Lewis (3-0), Harding (3-1) and No. 24 Central Washington (3-1) and losing to No. 13 Regis (2-3), a team that UCSD defeated in straight sets at the same tourney. Madelyn Densberger is the reigning AVCA National Player of the Week and CCAA Player of the Week and was named the Seawolf Spike MVP. Caylie Seitz leads the team in kills, averaging 3.38 per set. SSU hosts No. 22 Cal State San Bernardino Friday night.
ABOUT THE SERIES
UCSD is 25-8 all-time against Sonoma State. Last season, the teams split the series. UCSD took a five-set win in Rohnert Park and the Seawolves won, 3-1, at RIMAC Arena.
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THE BIG PICTURE
We want to reward you for posting your creative photos. Tweet your pics from any UCSD Athletics event and include our #TritonsRising hashtag. At the end of every month, we'll pick our favorite photos and dole out some swag to the winners!
Looking ahead to next week, the Tritons are slated for a trifecta of road matches, playing at No. 22 Cal State San Bernardino (Wed. 9/25), Cal State Stanislaus (Fri. 9/27) and Chico State (Sat. 9/28).