Photo by: Andy Wilhelm
Ryan Blaich, Tanner Syftestad, Shayne Beamer and the Tritons will play 13 of 27 matches at home in 2017.

Preseason Poll Released for UC San Diego's Milestone 25th and Final Year in MPSF


WOODLAND, Calif. - The 2017 season will be the University of California San Diego men's volleyball program's 25th and final one in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF). UC San Diego was picked 12th in Monday's release of the preseason coaches' poll.

The Tritons will join the newly-formed Big West Conference as an associate member when play begins in that league in 2018. They finished 12th in the MPSF a year ago after going 5-23 overall and 0-22 in league play. UCSD accumulated 12 points in the poll conducted annually by MPSF head coaches.

BYU topped the poll for the second year in succession, garnering nine first-place votes and 119 points in all. The Cougars are the reigning MPSF champions and 2016 national runners-up. UCLA, the MPSF finalist and an NCAA semifinalist last year, is second with 111 points and the remaining three first-place votes. The Bruins are followed by Long Beach State (103 points), UC Irvine (79) and Pepperdine (73) to round out the top five.

The MPSF will feature 12 squads for one final time in 2017. Each team has 18 conference matches on its schedule, a change from 22 for the previous two seasons. The new format calls for home-and-home meetings with seven opponents, and one against the remaining four.

UC San Diego more than doubled its 2015 win output in 2016, from two to five. The 2017 edition will be one of 12th-year head coach Kevin Ring's most experienced squads, with five starters back among 13 letter winners.

Top returners include fourth-year seniors Ian Colbert and Shayne Beamer, and junior opposite Tanner Syftestad. Colbert turned in a career year almost all across the board in 2016 as one of just two Tritons to start all 28 matches, with a team-best 233 kills. Syftestad was first in kills in 2015 (241) and second in 2016 (216). Beamer has not missed a match the past two seasons, with 117-plus kills in both, and led UCSD in total blocks as a junior.

Two newcomers to watch are outside hitter Devin Pontigon (Oceanside/El Camino HS) and fellow true freshman Ryan Lew at libero. The roster includes nine first-year Tritons in total.

UCSD's 27-match regular-season schedule has 13 home dates in La Jolla. The Tritons will host non-conference, out-of-state opponents Grand Canyon and Princeton for the second year in a row. They will also take a March trip to Columbus, Ohio, to face defending national champion Ohio State and Ball State.

Ring has added former UCLA and U.S. national team standout Nick Vogel to the staff as his top assistant. Paul Warren, like Ring a UCSD graduate, is back for his 11th season on the Triton bench.

UC San Diego will contest one preseason exhibition, at home on Monday, Jan. 2, against Canadian outfit University of Manitoba. First serve at RIMAC Arena is set for 4:30 p.m., with free parking and admission. The new campaign officially begins that Thursday night, Jan. 5, with the MPSF lid-lifter at No. 8 UC Irvine beginning at 7 p.m. inside Crawford Court. UCSD's home opener is two days later on Saturday, Jan. 7, at 5 p.m. in RIMAC against Grand Canyon.


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