The red-hot University of California San Diego men's volleyball team, on the heels of four consecutive victories for the first time since 2012 and its first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) success since 2014, heads into a three-match week, all at home against nationally-ranked league foes. The Tritons (4-5, 1-4 MPSF) welcome No. 13 CSUN (9-3, 2-3 MPSF) on Wednesday, Feb. 8, No. 5 Hawai'i (10-2, 3-2 MPSF) on Friday, Feb. 10, and No. 2 Long Beach State (9-2, 5-1 MPSF) on Saturday, Feb. 11. First serve for all three tilts inside RIMAC Arena on North Campus in La Jolla is set for 7 p.m. UCSD will join this week's three opponents in the newly-formed six-team Big West Conference as an associate member in 2018. The Tritons are an even 2-2 at home in 2017.
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. 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 @CSUNMensVB on Wednesday.
NATIONAL EXPOSURE FOR TRITONS
UC San Diego's first of four national television appearances in 2017 came on Saturday, 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
UC San Diego won all three of its matches over an eight-day span, beginning with a five-set home triumph over Hope International on Jan. 28 during which it overturned a pair of one-set deficits. Tanner Syftestad produced a career-high 31 kills while freshman libero Ryan Lew also led all players with 20 digs and Milosh Stojcic dished a career-best 56 assists. On Wednesday, Feb. 1, the Tritons took care of visiting Princeton in four sets. Syftestad starred again with 21 kills, and Ian Colbert joined him in double-figure kills at 11. Finally last Saturday, Feb. 4, UCSD traveled up to the Galen Center in Los Angeles and dropped the opening set before rallying for a four-set victory at USC. The result snapped a string of 49 consecutive MPSF losses going back to April 11, 2014. Syftestad (26 kills), Colbert (11) and Stojcic (45 assists) directed the offense while the defense came up with 14.5 blocks.
TRITONS ADVANCE A SPOT IN FIRST-YEAR OTB D-II POLL
This current four-match win streak has moved UCSD from No. 5 up to No. 4 in the first-year Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Division II National Coaches Poll on Tuesday. The Tritons are also receiving a singular vote outside the top 10 of the OTB/Springbak, Inc. National Media Poll this week.
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. The Tritons have never qualified for the MPSF Tournament.
STREAK STUFF...IT'S OVER!
The come-from-behind, four-set triumph at USC last Saturday, Feb. 4, finally broke a string of 49 consecutive losses in league play dating back to late in the 2014 season, when the Tritons swept visiting Pacific on April 11. This current four-match win streak is UCSD's longest since a five-match stretch from March 9-31, 2012, all in MPSF play. This is thus the Tritons' second-longest streak in their NCAA Division II history, since 2001. The single-season program record is six consecutive wins.
Junior opposite and first-year team tri-captain Tanner Syftestad has simply been on fire of late. Over the last five matches, he has produced, in order, 23 kills, 22, 31, 21 and 26, hitting .357 or better in each contest. He has achieved the match high in all five tilts, with the Tritons winning the last four, and averaged 5.35 kills per set (123 in 23) during this stretch. Remarkably, his kills have accounted for UCSD's final two points in each win during this four-match success streak. Syftestad now ranks fifth in the MPSF at 4.24 kills per set and seventh nationally. His career-high 31 kills against Hope International on Jan. 28 is the second-best single-match total in both the nation and MPSF, behind only USC senior Lucas Yoder's 33-kill effort on Jan. 7. It was also a rally-scoring-era (since 2011) program record, eclipsing Johl Awerkamp's 30 from April 5, 2013. Syftestad's career-best 56 attacks in that same match, is the national high for 2017. He has earned Off the Block National Offensive Player of the Night distinction five times this season.
5-Tanner Syftestad (Best of 31 on 1/28 vs. HIU)
2-Ian Colbert (11 on 2/1 vs. PRIN and 2/4 at USC)
2-Devin Pontigon (Best of 14 on 1/7 vs. GCU)
1-Alec Flowers (10 on 1/20 vs. UCI)
9-Milosh Stojcic (Best of 56 on 1/28 vs. HIU; eight with 20-plus and six with 30-plus)
25-Tanner Syftestad (Best of 31 on 1/28/17 vs. HIU)
12-Ian Colbert (Best of 19 three times; last on 3/2/16 vs. PEP)
6-Alec Flowers (Best of 15 on 3/6/15 vs. CBU)
2-Shayne Beamer (Best of 14 on 1/10/15 at GCU)
2-Devin Pontigon (14 on 1/7/17 vs. GCU)
1-Luke La Mont (12 on 1/30/15 at BYU)
1-Josh Schmidt (10 on 1/27/16 vs. PRIN)
1-Bryan Zhu (11 on 3/2/16 vs. PEP)
5-Ian Colbert (Best of 11 on 1/27/16 vs. PRIN)
3-Ryan Lew (Best of 20 on 1/28/17 vs. HIU)
1-Ryan Blaich (10 on 3/5/16 vs. UCI)
1-Milosh Stojcic (10 on 1/23/16 at HNU)
1-Tanner Syftestad (10 on 1/7/15 at CUI)
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)
TRITONS AMONG STATISTICAL LEADERS
Through Feb. 5, Tanner Syftestad ranks fifth in the MPSF and seventh in D I-II in kills per set (4.24), and sixth in the MPSF in points per set (4.71). Milosh Stojcic is seventh in the MPSF in assists per set (9.40). Ryan Lew is third in the MPSF and ninth nationally in digs per set (2.48). Lew's 20-dig effort against Hope International on Jan. 28 is the second-best single-match total both nationally (tied) and in the MPSF. Bryan Zhu is 15th in the MPSF at 0.86 blocks per set.
STOJCIC ON CUSP OF TOP 10
Junior setter Milosh Stojcic needs 78 assists to move into UCSD's all-time top 10 in the category. The Redondo Beach native surpassed the 1000 mark at UCLA on Jan. 14.
Tanner Syftestad's 31 kills against Hope International on Jan. 28 were the most by a UCSD player since Frank Fritsch's 33 in a four-set home win over Hawa'i on March 13, 2009 ... Syftestad's career-best 35.0 points are the most in the MPSF in 2017 ... Ryan Lew's match-best 20 digs in that same contest were the most by a Triton since career leader Eric Leserman's 20 in a five-set home loss to Stanford on Feb. 3, 2007 ... The Tritons' 3-2 win at Concordia on Jan. 21 marked their first five-set victory since a home date with Princeton on Jan. 27, 2016 ... UCSD's 15.5 total team blocks against the Eagles are the most by an MPSF side in 2017, and the most for the Tritons since they combined for 20.0 in another five-set triumph at USC on March 16, 2013.
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 is 0-3 in three-set matches, 2-1 in four sets and 2-1 in five-setters in 2017 ... 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 4-8 in season openers under Kevin Ring ... Devin Pontigon (1/9) and Ryan Lew (1/23, 1/30 and 2/6) have picked up Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Freshman of the Week honorable mentions this season ... 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 ... Of the Tritons' nine matches, Pontigon had at least a share of the team high in kills in each of the first four, before Syftestad led all players in the last five ... 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 an 81-241 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 MATADORS
No. 13 CSUN (9-3, 2-3 MPSF) is coming off of a season-long five-match home stand during which it went 3-2, and is a winner of three in a row, all in straight sets. The Matadors pace the nation with a .394 hitting percentage. Dimitar Kalchev is the national leader at 0.83 aces per set, and is fourth with an attack rate of .467. CSUN is 4-1 outside of Northridge. Jeff Campbell is in his milestone 20th season in charge at his alma mater.
CSUN leads the all-time series, 73-7, with eight straight wins going back to a 3-1 Triton victory at The Matadome on March 16, 2012. That result snapped UCSD's 40-match losing streak to CSUN. UCSD fell 3-0 in Northridge and 3-1 in La Jolla in 2015, and 3-0 in both meetings a season ago. The teams will face off again in Northridge on March 1.
ABOUT THE RAINBOW WARRIORS
No. 5 Hawai'i (10-2, 3-2 MPSF) arrives in La Jolla a winner of five straight, including two home dates with MPSF foe UC Santa Barbara last weekend, 3-0 and 3-1. The Rainbow Warriors are a perfect 9-0 inside their own Stan Sheriff Center in 2017, and 1-2 on the mainland. UH boasts the top blocking unit in the MPSF and third-best in the land, at 2.57 per set. Sophomore opposite Stijn van Tilburg ranks just ahead of UCSD's Tanner Syftestad in the MPSF, in fourth at 4.37 kills per set. Charlie Wade is in his eighth season in charge of the Rainbow Warriors.
UH leads the all-time series, 51-4, and has won both matchups in each of the past four seasons. The teams meet just once in 2017, this Friday night in La Jolla. The Rainbow Warriors took all four matches in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2014 and 2016 in straight sets. In La Jolla in 2015, scores were 3-0 and 3-1, and in 2013, 3-1 and 3-2. The sides had split the previous eight meetings between 2009-12. After UH won the first 39 matchups, the Tritons swept the 2009 series in La Jolla on March 13-14, 3-1 and 3-2. The teams split at RIMAC Arena in 2011, with UCSD winning in five sets on Jan. 28 and UH taking a 3-1 decision the following night. In 2012, the Tritons triumphed for the first and only time in Honolulu, 3-0 on Jan. 6, after the Rainbow Warriors had defeated them in straight sets the day before in the season opener for both squads.
ABOUT THE 49ERS
No. 2 Long Beach State (9-2, 5-1 MPSF) moved up from the No. 3 spot in the national poll in this Monday's latest edition. The 49ers are atop the MPSF standings. They are coming off of home sweeps against Pepperdine last Thursday night and Stanford on Saturday. The Beach is 5-2 away from home, and still plays at No. 7 UC Irvine on Friday night, before heading further south to La Jolla. The 49ers are largely led by their now-sophomore trio of TJ DeFalco (3.87 kills per set), Kyle Ensing (3.42 kps) and setter Josh Tuaniga (MPSF-best 11.47 assists/set). They are third nationally with a .356 attack rate. Seniors Amir Lugo-Rodriguez (1.29 blocks per set) and libero Andrew Sato (2.74 digs per set) are league leaders. Triton senior Josh Schmidt and LBSU's Davis Cannon were teammates at Irvine Valley College as freshmen in 2014. Alan Knipe is in his 14th season guiding his alma mater.
LBSU leads the all-time series, 63-5, with nine straight wins. The 49ers have earned sweeps in each of the past seven meetings, including last season's road matchup in Long Beach on Feb. 17, when the 49ers were the top-ranked team in the country. The Beach has won 18 of the last 19, with UCSD's lone success a 3-2 decision at the Walter Pyramid on March 15, 2012.
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 travels to Provo, Utah, next week, for two matches at No. 4 BYU, with the first meeting on Friday, Feb. 17, and the second a non-conference affair the following night. Both will be broadcast live to a national television audience on BYUtv.