When coach Kevin Ring put together his team’s non-conference schedule he made sure to include an emerging rival.
Ring said in a recent interview with Off the Block that UC San Diego will play a home-and-home series against Concordia-Irvine during the upcoming season.
“That’s a team that’s here in our backyard that’s going to be another Division II program so that’s great for us,” Ring said. “It’s a nice opportunity for us to get a good quality match against a non-conference opponent.”
Concordia-Irvine is entering the first year of a three-year transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II. In addition, the Eagles last season in non-conference play won the Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic and then went on to reach the NAIA national championship match.
Ring also said one of the reasons he scheduled the two-match series was because of the job second-year coach Shawn Patchell has done growing the Concordia-Irvine program.
UC San Diego will open its season on the road against Concordia-Irvine on Jan. 8 before playing host to the Eagles on Feb. 7.
Along with its two-match series against Concordia-Irvine, UC San Digeo next season will have non-conference home matches against Ball State, Princeton and Holy Names as well as a road match against Grand Canyon.
The Tritons in the last five years are a combined 16-11 in the non-conference, including beating Grand Canyon and Princeton in their most recent meetings.
UC San Diego last season went 2-1 in non-conference play but in the MPSF finished tied for 10th place. Among the returning starters for the Tritons includes outside attacker Kirill Ruenko, who in limited playing time last season after transferring from a Russian college had three matches with double-digit kills.
Ring said he will primarily rely on underclassmen to fill-out his starting lineup during the upcoming season. The coach also he is optimistic about his team’s potential in conference play.
“I’m excited about the guys we have returning and the guys coming in,” Ring said. “We know the challenges for the MPSF and how good of the teams are and we’re wanting to be in that mix.”