Season Recap: Men’s and Women’s Tennis, Women’s Water Polo, and Men’s Volleyball

Photo by Jonathan Gao
Photo by Jonathan Gao

Men’s Tennis

UC San Diego men’s tennis finished their season with a 12–9 record, good for fourth in the region and 21st nationally. The team also had an uneven season, alternating short winning and losing streaks throughout the year, before posting a dominant four-game win streak at the end of March. Unfortunately, this streak was negated by back-to-back losses to close out the year. UCSD assistant coach Tavi Popaluca was awarded the ITA Division-II West Region Assistant Coach of the Year recognition for the Tritons’ good season.

UCSD was led by senior Axel Bouillin, ranked 10th for the West Region. He finished the year with a 7–10 record at the one spot for the Tritons. He combined in the double with senior Rajeev Herekar at the one spot in double to finish the season as the 10th ranked doubles pair in Division-II, as well as the third best in the West Region. They combined to go 12–6 at the one spot with a nine-game win streak and reached the quarterfinals at the Pacific Coast Doubles.

Bouillin was helped in the singles by freshman Eric Tseng, who finished ranked 16th in the West Region and junior Horea Porutiu, ranked 17th. Tseng went 8–11, and Porutiu was 13–6, playing mostly at the two and three spot, respectively.

Herekar led the way at the four spot, compiling an 8–6 record. Herekar also earned Capital One Academic All-District Honors at the end of the season for excellence both on and off the court.

Senior Mark Meyer (6–8) and sophomore Alexandre Miaule (9–4) shared time at the five spot, while senior Kona Luu (9–4) spent most of the season at the sixth spot. The players were often shuffled around, however, and played at multiple spots throughout the year.

In the doubles, Miaule and Porutiu occupied the two spots for most of the season, posting a 10-6 record. Luu paired with Tseng (8–5) and Meyer (3–3) at the three spot throughout the year.

With six seniors graduating, the men’s tennis squad will look depleted next year. The top pair in doubles and number-one singles player are leaving, so the Tritons will look for Tseng and Porutiu to lead the team into the upcoming season.

Photo by Megan Lee
Photo by Megan Lee

Men’s Volleyball

UCSD men’s volleyball had a disappointing season overall, as they finished with a 2–26 record, going 0–22 in conference in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The Tritons accumulated a total of 1,718 points in their games, taking 12 sets in the process. Of their 26 losses, 20 came in straight sets, and none were pushed to five sets. However, with 15 of the 20-man team being freshmen, this year’s team will be looked upon as a still developing squad who gained valuable experience.

The season began on Jan.7 in Irvine as the Tritons faced up against Concordia University. Despite losing the match 3–1, the Tritons showed promise as they pushed hard to take the third set 26–24. That promise showed in the following week’s match, as UCSD secured their first win of the season against Grand Canyon University. It took a lot of resilience from the Tritons who had to come from two sets behind to secure a 3–2 win.

After this, however, the Tritons were subjected to a series of eight-straight set defeats including a 3–0 loss to No. 5 University of Southern California in UCSD’s first home game of the season on Jan. 22. UCSD, despite the losses, continued to show promise as they pulled off some good performances against some renowned opposition. Against 2012 and 2013 back-to-back champions UC Irvine, UCSD rode the heroics of sophomore middle-blocker Shayne Beamer, whose combinations of kills and solo blocks gave UCSD a 25–21 second-set win. The Tritons eventually fell in four sets to UC Irvine.

During that homestand, the Tritons were also unlucky to fall to Stanford University 3–1, in a match where freshman opposite Tanner Syfestad produced a season-best 16 kills. On Feb. 25, the Tritons produced their second win of the season as they took down Holy Names University in three sets. The Tritons produced a .408 hitting ratio in this game.

After this, however, the Tritons continued to be outplayed by opposition suffering three back-to-back set losses to UC Santa Barbara, UCLA and USC, respectively. UCSD did bring out some great performances in what was left of the season. Against California Baptist University, the Tritons took the first set but eventually fell in four. Freshman middle-blocker Alec Flowers produced an impressive 15 kills in that match in his first collegiate start.

Despite falling to No. 1 University of Hawaii in four, the Tritons showed character to take the first set and resilience to push the much-favored team all the way. Even in their last match of the season against the MPSF regular-season champions UC Irvine, the Tritons managed to out-block their opponents 8.5 to 4.0, showing that there is a solid foundation of talent to be built upon.

The star of the season was Syfestad, as he produced an outstanding 2.71 kills-to-set ratio, over one point higher than any other player on the team. The freshman also produced a team-high 299 points for the Tritons and 0.84 block-to-set ratio. Freshman setter Milosh Stojcic produced a team-high of 417 assists, and freshman libero Tyler Bird displayed the team’s highest dig total with an impressive 140 digs.

UCSD will bring this young group of players along in their second season next season, as they look to be more competitive than this past season in the MPSF.

Photo by Nhan Nguyen
Photo by Nhan Nguyen

Women’s Tennis

UCSD women’s tennis finished the season ranked 25th nationally and seventh in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association West Region in Division-II play. The Tritons had an uneven season, despite putting together an impressive six-game winning streak early in the season. They alternated two- and three-game winning and losing streaks to finish at a mediocre 12–13 overall on the season. UCSD also played seven NCAA Division-I opponents on the season and went 2–5 in those matchups.

The Tritons were led by Junior Kyra Scott at the number 1 spot. The team leader posted a 13 –5 record on the year while battling an ankle injury and finished ranked fifth in the region and 21st nationally.

Scott paired with sophomore Britta Moser to lead UCSD’s No.1 double’s pair. They finished 14–8 on the season, ranked third in the region and 16th nationally. Moser played most of the season at the three spot and had a 16–9 record, making her the winningest Triton over the season.

UCSD’s team was completed by freshman Jasmine Hosseini, ranked 13th in the region and usually playing in the two spot. She had a 14–10 record on the season, even seeing some action at the one spot after Scott got injured.

The team was usually completed by sophomore Nava Nowamooz (8–17) at the four spot, freshman Nousha Nowamooz (4–18) at the five spot and sophomore Shannon Theisen (7–17) at the sixth spot.

In doubles, the pair formed by Nava Nowamooz and Theisen posted a (9–15) record playing in the two spot, and Hosseini and Nousha Nowamooz had an even 12–12 record at the three spot.

With a year more of experience and no seniors graduating, women’s tennis will look to improve on this season’s results when they take the court next year.

Photo by Megan Lee
Photo by Megan Lee

Women’s Water Polo

The UCSD women’s water polo team had an impressive season and, despite facing adversity, won the Western Water Polo Association title for the fourth time over the past five years. They competed at the Division-II National Collegiate Women’s Water Polo Championship, eventually placing eighth.

The season started when the UCSD squad rode out to compete at the UC Santa Barbara Winter Invitational. During the invitational, UCSD managed to maintain their No. 13 preseason rank as they competed against Arizona State, Cal State Bakersfield, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Cal State Long Beach. They started off the season with a 2–2 weekend after they were able to defeat Michigan 9–5 and Cal State Long Beach 8–6.

The Tritons’ first home game turned out to be a success, as they defeated Hartwick by twice their score, winning by a comfortable margin with a score of 14–7. With this win, the Tritons were able to raise their rank to No. 12. The Tritons found similar success in the Triton Invitational. They were able to win two of the four games they played: Marist College with an 11–5 win and San Diego State with a 9–7 win. The Tritons came out of their hosted event a more uniform team, and they managed to maintain their No. 12 ranking in the league.

The UC Davis Invitational turned out to be an-eye opening event for the Tritons, as they only won one of the three games that they played there; they beat Azusa Pacific with a score of 15–8 but lost to UC Davis and UC Berkeley. Despite the losses, the Tritons reached a season peak ranking at No. 11. At the UC Irvine Invitational, the Tritons fared worse, as they won only one of four matches, managing to beat Michigan but losing to UC Santa Barbara, Loyola Marymount University and University of Hawai’i. This tough weekend made the Tritons’ record plummet and brought them down to No. 16.

The Tritons won other matches after the UC Irvine Invitational but remained on the negative spectrum. As a result, their ranking dropped even further to No. 19. The Tritons approached the Claremont Convergence with more determination and were able to turn things around, as they won three of their four matches, their only loss coming on a final heart-wrenching score of 8–9 in overtime. Despite these wins, the Tritons’ record still dropped them down to a No. 20 ranking, where it would stay for the rest of the season.

The Aztec Invite and the remainder of the season reflected the Triton’s performance up to this point: Although they were able to win some games, they were never consistent enough to sustain winning streaks. Their biggest loss came toward the end of the season at the Harper Cup, when the Tritons fell to San Diego State after only being able to hold onto the cup for one year.

Things turned around for the Tritons in the WWPA championships, where they were able to win all three of their matches and claim the title. The title allowed the Tritons to play in the NCAA Championship Play-In Game. After defeating Whittier College in the play-in game, the Tritons once again played in the NCAA tournament, finishing in eighth place for the second consecutive year to conclude a successful season.

UCSD was led by standout junior goalkeeper Courtney Miller, who recorded 402 saves, a single-season school record, to go with 29 assists. The WWPA player of the year also eclipsed the 1000-saves mark this season, becoming the all-time saves leader in UCSD women’s water polo history.

After losing senior attacker Sarah Lizotte and her 92 goals from the 2013-14 season, and with senior attacker Jolene Guiliana’s production declining slightly, from 73 to 58 goals, UCSD relied more heavily on both junior attacker Laurel Kistler, who led the team in goals and steals, and junior attacker Julia Kirkland, who was second on the team with 63 goals. Guiliana still led the team in assists, with 56 over the season. Sophomore attacker Lani Tittle, sophomore center Lauren Boyer and junior attacker Emma Sasson all had notable contributions to the team’s success.

Despite having a questionable offense at times, UCSD was saved throughout the season by Miller’s incredible performances. With her and several of their leaders coming back, and despite the loss of Guiliana to graduation, the Tritons will look to continue their three-year streak of competing in the NCAA Championships.