January 31, 2012

No. 15 Gauchos Face Off Against Trojans, Waves

The Schedule 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. at USC's Galen Center

No. 15 UC Santa Barbara (2-5, 0-3) at No. 4 USC (4-3, 3-3)

Series Record: UCSB leads 56-50, Streak: Won 2

2011 Series: Tied 2-2, Last Match: UCSB 3-1 USC

Friday, February 3, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. at Pepperdine's Firestone Fieldhouse

No. 15 UC Santa Barbara (2-5, 0-3) at No. 8 Pepperdine (6-2, 5-1)

Series Record: UCSB trails 33-59, Streak: Lost 1

2011 Series: Tied 1-1, Last Match: 3-0 Pepperdine 

Can't Make it to the Court? 

UCSB men's volleyball matches can be followed live online for no charge with Presto Sport's "Primetime" app. For home matches, log on to UCSBgauchos.com, go to the men's volleyball schedule, and click on the"live stats' link for the match you're interested in. You can follow each point and see player statistics and bios. If away matches are unavailable on the UCSB website, the match can be followed on the home team's website using the same procedure. 

The Week in Review 

Last week, the Gauchos hit the road for the first time this season, trekking to UCLA to take on the Bruins. The match did not go as planned for Rick McLaughlin's Gauchos, as they were swept in less than 70 minutes. The Bruins outblocked UCSB 12-6 for the match, and hit a robust .432. Junior middle blocker Dylan Davis improved on his recent form, picking up four blocks on the evening after only recording a total of three over his last three matches. Chad Kingi and Blaine Nielsen also performed well, registering 11 digs and a team-high nine kills, respectively. 

Struggling Against the Waves 

With a 33-59 overall record against Pepperdine, UCSB has had its share of difficulties with the Waves. Matching up against the Waves has been especially harrowing lately, as the Gauchos have dropped 11 of the past 12 matches between the two teams. Last season's victory was the first against Pepperdine since Feb. 15, 2006. 

Attacking Streaks Snapped 

Two UCSB attacking streaks were snapped at UCLA last week. The match was the first time this season that a Gaucho failed to record 10+ kills. It was also the first time this season that Miles Evans did not lead the team in kills (Blaine Nielsen's nine topped Evans' seven). 

Evans Getting It Done 

Junior outside hitter Miles Evans has quickly become the team's go-to attacking option, having led the squad in kills in six of the first seven matches of the season. Miles, a transfer from Santa Barbara City College, follows in the footsteps of last year's big hitter, Jeff Menzel, who was also raised in the Santa Barbara area. Miles recently picked up a career-high in kills, going off for 20 on Jan. 21 against Stanford in just four games. Miles ranks fifth in the MPSF in kills per game (3.92) and sixth in points per game (4.50). 

Fresh Faced Gauchos 

In contrast to last year's senior-heavy and rarely changing lineup, this year's lineup features just one senior and one starting returner. Head Coach Rick McLaughlin rarely strayed from his starting seven last year, but 12 different players have started a match already this year for the Gauchos. 

Brotherly Love 

This year's squad has two pairs of brothers- Chad & Austin Kingi, and Weston & Blaine Nielsen. Chad's team-high 2.23 digs per set are seventh-best in the conference, while Blaine's 36 kills rank him third on the squad. 

Seeing the Licht 

Sophomore middle blocker Evan Licht, who saw limited playing time as a serving specialist during his freshman year, is relishing his semi-regular role in the starting lineup in 2012. Licht is second on the team in kills at 37. Still a strong server, Licht leads the squad in both aces (7) and aces per game (0.37). He also ranks ninth in the conference in aces per game and his team-high .426 hitting percentage registers at 13th best in the MPSF. 

Dependable Davis 

Dylan Davis, one of two Gauchos to have appeared in all 26 of the team's sets, is playing as solid as ever this year. Davis, who finished second on last year's team with 101 blocks, leads this year's squad with 26 thus far. Since the beginning of last season, he has failed to record a block in just two matches. Dylan's current output of 1.00 blocks per game places him tenth in the conference. 

Efficient Freshman 

Chris Hartig and Kevin Donohue are both stepping up their attacking games this season, despite their young age. Hartig and Donohue rank second and third on the team in kills per game at 2.67 and 2.50, respectively.