In the opening weekend of play, not many individuals impressed more than UC San Diego senior right side/setter Tanner Syftestad. The 6’8″ product from Sacramento, California posted 49 kills in just two matches as the Tritons went 2-0 in the Wooden Classic over the weekend.
Syftestad has been a really good player for the Tritons in previous years, but early on this season it appears he’s made the jump from good to great. He doesn’t just have 49 kills in the two matches, good for 5.44 per set, but he’s doing it at an efficient clip of .361. He’s also added 12 digs, nine blocks, four aces and three assists.
And that jump has already made a big impact on his team. This is the first time since 1996 that UC San Diego has begun the season at 2-0, as the Tritons are looking to post a winning record for the first time in program history. Neither match was against a noted power, as they downed McKendree and (RV) King, but that is still an MIVA school and one of the top contenders in the Conference Carolinas.
Syftestad actually began in college as just a club player at Chico State. That didn’t last long as UC San Diego got a hold of the talented product. He immediately made an impact for the Tritons, starting 52 matches in his first two seasons. He totaled 299 points as a freshman and 255.5 as a sophomore. He then reached new heights as a junior.
In year three in 2017, Syftestad was an All-MPSF Second-Team selection in addition to a long list of many other awards. He recorded 366 kills (.298), 102 digs, 62 blocks and 28 aces – good for 428 points.
It may be unsustainable for Syftestad to log over five kills per set, especially with better competition ahead. UC San Diego will have to find more options to both lessen fatigue and create more balance if they want success in those matches, but at the very least they have a star to lead the way.
When adding up his career numbers, Syftestad is now just 128 kills from 1,000 in his career. As the season continues, he will blow by some milestones and garner even more accolades. But beyond the individual prosperity, Syftestad’s play could be the difference for UC San Diego in 2018, as they could ride his coattails to the first ever winning season in program history.