The Tritons sweep the University of Charleston; fall to Grand Canyon University.
UCSD opened up its season at home with a three-set sweep of University of Charleston on Friday, before a tight loss to Grand Canyon University on Saturday. With the win and the loss, UCSD now owns a 1–1 record on the season.
The Tritons defeated non-conference opponent University of Charleston in three sets during their 2016 season opener Friday night. The set scores were 25–18, 25–19 and 25–12; UCSD had its highest hitting percentage, .418, since they hit for .554 percent against UC Merced on April 5, 2014.
UCSD’s co-captain, sophomore opposite Tanner Syftestad, had eight kills and three blocks. He also saw some playing time at setter for the end of the third set and had a career-best five assists. Senior outside hitter Kirill Rudenko matched his career-best with 11 kills while junior middle blocker Shayne Beamer had six kills and three blocks and tallied a career-best three aces on the night. Sophomore setter Milosh Stojcic had 18 assists, five digs, two blocks and three kills while junior outside hitter Ian Colbert collected six digs, five kills and two assists.
“Our volleyball looks like it’s at a pretty high level,” Rudenko told the UCSD athletics department. “I feel that we have great potential starting the season off on a good note.”
The first set was the most competitive as the Golden Eagles and Tritons went back and forth with multiple lead changes,tying up the score five times throughout the frame. The Tritons finally ran off with the lead and won the set 25–18.
The second set resulted in another set win for the Tritons. Freshman setter Ryan Blaich, freshman middle blocker Nathan Thalken and redshirt freshman middle blocker Drew Sloane all made their collegiate volleyball debuts, and sophomore outside hitter Ryan Schickling served consecutive points and got his first collegiate ace. The third set was dominated by the Tritons, resulting in the win of their season opener, snapping a 13-game losing streak that began last season.
“I think we’ve got the making of a team that could be in the fight every night,” UCSD Head Coach Kevin Ring told the UCSD athletics department.
On Saturday night, UCSD and Grand Canyon University played two tight sets to begin the match, each resulting in wins for the Grand Canyon Antelopes. The Antelopes swept the Tritons, taking the first two sets 26–24 and the third set 25–12.
Rudenko and Syftestad both had 8 kills. Colbert led the team with seven digs on the night along with 6 kills. Beamer had five kills and three blocks while Stojcic had 26 assists, five digs, two blocks and a kill on the night.
Grand Canyon players senior outside hitter Gerrard Lipscombe, senior opposite hitter Ryan Mather and sophomore outside hitter Shalev Saada combined 30 kills on the night. Antelope’s setter, sophomore Puna Kaniho, had 39 assists while libero, sophomore Sky Engleman, tallied nine digs.
“We were terrible tonight defensively,” Ring told the UCSD athletics department.
In both the first and the second sets, UCSD held a lead late. In the first frame, UCSD was up 23–21 before Grand Canyon took five of six to take the set. The same thing happened in the second frame, when UCSD was up 24–22 before suffering a 4–0 run by Grand Canyon who closed out the set 26–24. From there on, the ‘Lopes breezed through the third set and exposed the Tritons’ defense.
The Tritons will have to turn this around and crank up the effort when they face fellow Mountain Pacific Sports Federation competitors to open their conference schedule, No. 9 UC Santa Barbara on Friday, Jan. 15 and No. 5 UCLA on Saturday, Jan. 16 in the RIMAC Arena.