The University of California San Diego men's volleyball team has a split schedule this weekend. The Tritons (0-4, 0-3 MPSF) host sixth-ranked Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) foe UC Irvine (5-1, 2-1 MPSF) on Friday night, Jan. 20, inside RIMAC Arena, before stepping out of league play to travel the short distance north to Concordia Irvine (5-5) on Saturday, Jan. 21. Both first serves are set for 7 p.m.
General admission tickets for home volleyball matches are $8 for adults and $5 for visiting students, seniors (65 and older), children (7 and older) and UCSD Alumni Association members. UCSD students and kids under seven years of age are admitted free. Tickets are available at the main entrance to RIMAC Arena on the night of the match. Parking permits are required on the UCSD campus on weeknights. The closest lot to RIMAC is the adjacent Hopkins Parking Structure. Permits can be purchased there at machines by the elevator. Parking is free on Saturdays.
TRITON VOLLEYBALL ON UCSDTRITONS.TV
UC San Diego Athletics and local technology giant ViaSat once again in 2017 bring you Triton Men's Volleyball on UCSDtritons.tv, an online streaming platform. All broadcasts are in high definition, and can be viewed from smartphones and tablets. UCSD alum and former Triton baseball pitcher (2007-08) Tim Strombel (@Timmy2Sides) serves as the primary play-by-play voice, and is typically joined by 1988 Olympic gold medalist, beach legend and current UCSD women's volleyball head coach Ricci Luyties. Viewing is subscription-based, though it is free from UCSD campus IP addresses. A package that gives viewers access to all streamed events through the 2016-17 academic year is available for $34.99. A single-day option can be purchased for $5.99. The channel also carries all Triton home basketball contests, a majority of baseball, soccer, softball and water polo games, and a variety of other home events featuring virtually every one of UCSD's 23 intercollegiate sports at least once. Events are archived.
In addition to UCSD home matches featuring live online video at our streaming portal, UCSDtritons.tv, all contests, home and away, have live stats. A majority of road dates also have video, including Saturday at Concordia. Fans can access live coverage from the Schedule/Results page, or by clicking on the links above. Follow @UCSDtritons for in-match Twitter updates throughout the season, and @cuieagles on Saturday.
NATIONAL EXPOSURE FOR TRITONS
UC San Diego's first of four national television appearances in 2017 came last Saturday night, Jan. 14, in the form of a 3-0 loss at No. 2 UCLA, with the action from Pauley Pavilion on Pac-12 Los Angeles. The Tritons can later be seen on Pac-12 Bay Area at Stanford on Saturday, April 1. They were on Pac-12 Networks one previous time, a 3-0 defeat at USC on March 4, 2015. Both matches at preseason MPSF favorite BYU on Friday, Feb. 17, and Saturday, Feb. 18, air on BYUtv.
LAST TIME OUT
UCSD suffered straight-set defeats at No. 12 UC Santa Barbara and No. 2 UCLA last Friday and Saturday night. Freshman outside hitter Devin Pontigon put down a team-high eight kills in Santa Barbara, but the Tritons could not escape a stat line that indicated 16 errors to zero aces from the service line. Xander Jimenez got to six digs in his first career start. In Westwood 24 hours later, Pontigon and Ian Colbert had six kills apiece, with Jimenez again producing the team high in digs, with five. UCLA hit .557, including a scalding .789 (15-0-19) in the first set.
25TH AND FINAL MPSF SEASON
The 2017 campaign is UCSD's milestone 25th and final one in the MPSF. The Tritons have been in the MPSF ever since it debuted in 1993. They will join the newly-formed Big West Conference as an associate member when play begins in that league in 2018. Full Big West members CSUN, Hawai'i, Long Beach State, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara also move over from the MPSF, giving the conference the minimum six teams required for postseason NCAA automatic qualification. Before it goes, UCSD looks to break a string of what is now 48 consecutive losses in league play dating back to late in the 2014 season, when the Tritons swept visiting Pacific on April 11. They have never qualified for the MPSF Tournament.
1-Devin Pontigon (14 on 1/7 vs. GCU)
4-Milosh Stojcic (Best of 37 on 1/7 vs. GCU; three with 20-plus and one with 30-plus)
20-Tanner Syftestad (Best of 18 two times; last on 3/5/16 vs. UCI)
10-Ian Colbert (Best of 19 three times; last on 3/2/16 vs. PEP)
5-Alec Flowers (Best of 15 on 3/6/15 vs. CBU)
2-Shayne Beamer (Best of 14 on 1/10/15 at GCU)
1-Luke La Mont (12 on 1/30/15 at BYU)
1-Devin Pontigon (14 on 1/7/17 vs. GCU)
1-Josh Schmidt (10 on 1/27/16 vs. PRIN)
1-Bryan Zhu (11 on 3/2/16 vs. PEP)
1-Bryan Zhu (10 on 3/13/15 at STAN)
Four current Tritons have combined for seven double-doubles (none in 2017):
Ian Colbert (4)
1/23/16 at Holy Names (13 kills, 10 digs)
1/27/16 vs. Princeton (19 kills, 11 digs)
2/5/16 vs. California Baptist (17 kills, 10 digs)
3/5/16 vs. UC Irvine (10 kills, 10 digs)
Ryan Blaich (1)
3/5/16 vs. UC Irvine (49 assists, 10 digs)
Milosh Stojcic (1)
1/23/16 at Holy Names (31 assists, 10 digs)
Tanner Syftestad (1)
1/7/15 at Concordia (12 kills, 10 digs)
UC San Diego more than doubled its 2015 win output in 2016, from two to five. The 2017 edition is one of 12th-year head coach Kevin Ring's most experienced squads, with five starters back among 13 letterwinners. 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 did not miss a match the last two seasons, with 117-plus kills in both, and led UCSD in total blocks as a junior.
COLBERT COMING OFF CAREER YEAR
Ian Colbert really stepped up in his junior campaign. The outside hitter out of Belmont in Northern California paced the Tritons in kills (233) and was second in digs (154) and third in aces (13). He had a team-best nine matches with double-figure kills, including a career-high 19 on three occasions. The middle one of those efforts came in just three frames at No. 5 Hawai'i (1/31), marking the most kills in a three-set match by a Triton since Frank Fritsch had 20 at No. 8 UCLA on Jan. 23, 2009, when sets went to 30 points. Colbert also posted his first four double-doubles.
Team tri-captains for the 2017 season were designated as fourth-year outside hitters Ian Colbert and Calvin Manchenko, and junior opposite Tanner Syftestad. Syftestad is a two-time captain.
UNIQUE STORIES IN TRITON LINEUP
• Tanner Syftestad is a third-year Triton who transferred after spending 2013-14 as a true freshman playing club volleyball at Chico State, which does not sponsor intercollegiate men's volleyball. The Sacramento native appeared in 55 of 56 matches his first two seasons, starting 52 of them at opposite and producing double-figure kill totals in 20. Syftestad led UCSD in kills (241), aces (15) and total blocks (75) in 2015, and was second in all three categories (216-15-44) in 2016.
• Alec Flowers was serving as a team manager to begin his freshman year in 2015 while slated to redshirt, before joining the active roster, making his college debut on Feb. 13, and ultimately starting nine of the final 10 matches at outside hitter. He had team bests of 15 kills and seven digs in his first start that March 6.
UCSD's schedule features 13 of 27 matches at home, as well as a March trip to Columbus, Ohio, to face defending national champion Ohio State and Ball State ... The Tritons are now 4-8 in season openers under Kevin Ring ... UCSD is receiving votes outside the top five of the new Off the Block Division II National Coaches Poll (1/17) ... Devin Pontigon earned Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Freshman of the Week honorable mention on Jan. 9 after his college debut ... Of the Tritons' first four matches, Pontigon has had at least a share of the team high in kills in every one ... UCSD was picked 12th in the MPSF preseason coaches' poll, with BYU the favorite ... Tanner Syftestad was one of 17 standouts around the country named to the preseason watch list for the third annual Bryan Ivie Award, presented by Off the Block to the best opposite in NCAA Division I-II ... A league-high seven Tritons earned MPSF All-Academic distinction in 2016, including returners Ian Colbert, Alec Flowers, Luke McDonald, Milosh Stojcic and Bryan Zhu, with Colbert and Zhu now two-time honorees.
Of the 22 players on UCSD's roster, 21 are from California, with fourth-year outside hitter Calvin Manchenko a native of Melville, N.Y. ... UCSD has 14 returners, 13 of whom saw action a season ago, and eight newcomers ... Four Tritons have made their college debut in true freshmen Ryan Lew, Bailey Militar and Devin Pontigon, and redshirt freshman Xander Jimenez ... There are two San Diego products in Pontigon (Oceanside/El Camino HS), an outside hitter, and redshirt junior middle Bryan Zhu (Rancho Bernardo HS) ... Former UCLA and U.S. national team standout Nick Vogel is in his first year on the coaching staff, and has taken over as the top assistant, with UCSD graduate Paul Warren in his 11th season on the Triton bench.
HEAD COACH KEVIN RING
Kevin Ring is in his 12th season in charge at his alma mater. The 2009 MPSF Coach of the Year, he has a 77-240 overall record at the helm. Before being elevated to the head position on June 15, 2005, Ring spent nine years as an assistant for the UCSD men's squad. He got his start in La Jolla 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 U.S. 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, and aided women's national team head coach Karch Kiraly and his staff in preparing Team USA for the 2016 Rio Olympics. That involvement included serving as an on-court assistant to Kiraly for three matches in Bangkok, Thailand, on the final stop of the FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary rounds in August of 2014. In the December 2015 issue of Volleyball Magazine, Ring appeared at No. 10 in a listing of the top head coaches in college men's volleyball, as voted by his peers.
ABOUT THE ANTEATERS
No. 6 UC Irvine (5-1, 2-1 MPSF), picked to finish fourth in the MPSF in 2017, is off to a strong start after struggling through injuries to a 10-20 overall mark last year. All-Americans Tamir Hershko and Michael Saeta have excelled for the Anteaters, who come off of a road split, having rallied to take a five-setter at UC Santa Barbara a night before a 3-0 loss at UCLA last Thursday. David Kniffin is in his fifth year in charge at his alma mater. He guided the 'Eaters to the 2013 national crown in his first go-around.
UC Irvine leads the all-time series, 42-10, and has taken the last 12 meetings dating back to a 3-1 UCSD triumph in Irvine on Jan. 12, 2011. The Anteaters have won 3-0 at home in each of the past four seasons, including in the Tritons' 2017 opener on Jan. 5. The most recent meeting in La Jolla went to UCI in five frames on March 5, 2016. Previously, the 'Eaters pulled out another five-set thriller at the Bren Events Center after UCSD had taken the first two frames on March 31, 2013. Scores were 23-25, 21-25, 25-13, 25-21 and 15-10.
ABOUT THE EAGLES
The Concordia University Irvine men's volleyball program is in its fifth season in existence. The Eagles (5-5) traveled to Provo, Utah, to drop a pair of contests to McKendree (3-2) and host BYU (3-0) last Friday, snapping a five-match win streak. They host SUNY New Paltz on Thursday night before welcoming in the Tritons. Concordia went 25-7 in its inaugural year in 2013 and won the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) title. Currently an independent, CUI will join the MPSF as an associate member in 2018. Shawn Patchell is in his fourth campaign in charge of the Eagles.
CUI leads the all-time series, 2-1. UCSD and Concordia met for the very first time in men's volleyball in a home-and-home series in 2015, with the Eagles taking both matchups, 3-1 in Irvine in the season opener for both sides, and then 3-0 in La Jolla. The Tritons earned a straight-set decision in Irvine a year ago on March 10, snapping a lengthy home court win streak for CUI.
For the latest in Triton athletic gear, make sure to visit ucsdtritonsgear.com. Run by UCSD Athletics' online partner, Advanced-Online, the site provides an on-demand option for Triton athletic apparel and merchandise. Fans have access to over 600 products that can be processed and shipped within 24 hours.
FOR THE YOUNGER CROWD
Got some young Triton fans in your family? If they are in eighth grade or under, check out the Junior Triton Club. Membership includes a free t-shirt, admission to over 100 UCSD home athletic events, and much more!
UCSD has a light slate next week, staying in non-conference play to host Hope International of Fullerton inside RIMAC Arena on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m.