Season Opener

    Men’s volleyball began its 2014 season with a fourth-place finish at the 50th Annual UC Santa Barbara Asics Invitational

    The UCSD men’s volleyball team began its 2014 campaign at the 50th Annual UC Santa Barbara Asics Invitational.

    The Tritons finished fourth at the 10-team tournament, going 2–2 in group play last Friday, Jan. 3, before falling to host No. 8 UC Santa Barbara in the third-place game on Saturday.

    “The pool play gave us the option to mix the lineups up and to get some guys on the court who may be new or don’t have as much experience,” UCSD head coach Kevin Ring said. “I was pleased with how we played on Friday, and I thought we served well and our passing held up.”

    The Tritons played four best-of-three games on Friday, losing their first match 2–1 to Cal State Long Beach, who went undefeated throughout the tournament. UCSD rebounded to sweep Indiana University-Purdue Fort Wayne before losing to UCLA in straight sets. Needing to beat Cal State Northridge in order to advance to the third-place game, the Tritons came from behind in the third set to take the win.

    “It was also good to see that we won a couple close games,” Ring said. “Against Cal State Northridge, we knew that if we didn’t win we would have finished in fifth place. We knew the circumstances, and even though it was just a preseason tournament, we did what we needed to do to advance.”

    On Saturday, the Tritons faced off against Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opponent UC Santa Barbara and lost in straight sets. UCSD stayed close in the first set (25–23) but struggled down the stretch, losing the last two sets 25–11 and 25–16.

    “In game one, we did really well to come back, but lost 25–23,” Ring said. “After that, they just controlled the match and were clearly the better team on the night. But I think we learned some things about ourselves and will be able to go over the video and improve from there.”

    The Tritons will begin MPSF conference play this Friday on the road against USC.

    When asked, Ring said he has a fairly defined idea of what his starting lineup will look like this season. Ring said he plans to alternate between setters senior Mike Brunsting and junior Garrett Dempsey, while seniors opposite Johl Awerkamp and middle blocker Fred Stahl will continue to start. Ring will rotate outside hitters senior Nick Iorfino, redshirt junior Scot Metzger and sophomore Elliott Shaw, while freshmen Bryan Lee and Griffin Galvin will compete for time as libero. Redshirt freshman Ganesh Elie will be tasked to fill in at middle blocker for former Triton captain and All-MPSF Academic team selection Sebastian Brady, who has left the team.

    Ring says the squad will be watching film this week to prepare for USC, who has one of the best setters in the conference in Micah Christenson but will focus on improving on their side of the net this week.

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