Tritons Come Out with a Kill

John Hanacek/Guardian

MEN’S VOLLEYBALL — After completing their most successful season in school history last year, the Tritons returned to action on Jan. 7 and Jan. 8 at the 46th Annual Santa Barbara Invitational at UC Santa Barbara, where they placed seventh and picked up their first win of the 2009-10 season.

This year’s team is stacked with accomplished players like senior Frank Fritsch, who led the 2009 Triton team with 366 kills. Fritsch’s 1,044 career kills rank him fourth in school history. Senior Jason Spangler, who has totaled 1,171 kills in his career, is on his way to becoming the all-time career kills leader. He has only to best former Tritons Tom Black (1,268 kills) and Jim Waller (1,301 kills).

One more player on the career-kills chart is junior Will Ehrman, whose 633 place him at 14th. Junior Phil Bannan has raked up 2,229 career assists, placing him at fourth on the list of all-time career assists at UCSD.

Prior to his injury, junior Adrian Guthals set the single-season record for hitting percentage with a .442 clip.

Going into the Santa Barbara Invitational as a major underdog, No. 11 UCSD started with a 2-1 lead against No. 10 UCLA in its first match. However, the team ultimately lost to UCLA 30-24, 24-30, 26-30, 31-29, 15-8.

Over the course of the match, Ehrman collected 17 kills and five digs. Fritsch had 15 kills and freshman Cyrus Kiani had 11; sophomore Andrew Kaban was right behind with 10 digs, and Guthals tallied four blocks. Bannan lent 49 assists.

Despite jumping out to the quick lead, UCSD couldn’t capitalize in a tight fourth game and didn’t have an answer for the Bruins’ offense in the deciding game.

In their second match-up of the day, the Tritons lost to No. 3 UC Irvine 30-28, 22-30, 30-26, 30-21. Spangler led the way with 16 kills.

On the second day of the tournament, UCSD won its first two sets against No. 14 hosts UCSB and held on for a 30-22, 30-27, 29-31, 26-30, 15-11 victory. Fritsch led the way with 27 kills on .347 hitting. Ehrman had 17 kills on .519 hitting and Kiani had 14 kills without an error on .667 hitting.

The win marked UCSD’s third straight five-set victory over the Gauchos.

Senior Erik Sierks played as setter for UCSD and facilitated a .368 team hitting average by delivering 68 assists. Junior Joel Davidson had nine kills and five digs off the bench.

After downing 53 kills at the competition, Fritsch has passed the 1,000-kills mark in his career with the Tritons.

“My goal is to do better than last year and take my team further and into the playoffs,” Fritsch said. “We’ve never made it into the playoffs. We got close last season, so that’s our goal.”

The Tritons will open the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Jan. 13 when they travel to Northridge to face No. 2 Cal State Northridge (3-0). UCSD then travels back to Santa Barbara to face No. 14 UCSB (0-3).

The team has lost in its last four MPSF openers. The last conference-opener victory was in 2004 against USC.

Readers can contact Jessy Jahangir at [email protected].