Seventh-Ranked Gauchos Return to Rob to Host UCLA, UC San Diego

Seventh-Ranked Gauchos Return to Rob to Host UCLA, UC San Diego

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• The Schedule
Wedneday, Mar. 5, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.
No. 7 UCSB (10-5, 9-5) vs. No. 5 UCLA (13-5, 10-4)
at Rob Gym
Series record vs. UCLA – 33-121
Streak vs. the Bruins – Lost 1
UCSB Streak Overall – Won 1
UCLA Streak Overall – Lost 2
Last time out – L, 3-0 @ UCLA (1/21/14)

Friday, Mar. 7, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.
No. 7 UCSB (10-5, 9-5) vs. UC San Diego (1-16, 0-15)
at Rob Gym
Series record vs. UCSD – 31-8
Streak vs. the Tritons – Won 2
UCSB Streak Overall – Won 1
UCSD Streak Overall – Lost 1
Last time out – W, 3-0 @ UCSD (3/1/14)

• The Week In Review
UCSB wrapped up a four-match road trip by travelling to UC Irvine and UC San Diego, falling in four games to the Anteaters before recovering for a straight-set sweep over the Tritons. The Gauchos struggled against UCI, the two-time defending national champions, and never really got their serve going, registering zero aces for just the second time this year. Evan Licht led the Gauchos with 16 kills in that match. UCSB rebounded strongly against the Tritons, dominating the match behind a career performance from Matt Hanley, who had 20 kills and just one error for a .731 hitting percentage. After getting shut out at the service line against UCI, the Gauchos matched a season-high with 10 aces against UCSD. The team's .397 hitting  percentage was also its highest in an official match this season.

• California Dreaming
UC Santa Barbara is the only squad in NCAA men's volleyball to have a team comprised solely of players from California. All 19 players on Rick McLaughlin's team were raised in the Golden State, stretching from Nevada City in the north (Bobby Curtis) to Coto de Caza in the south (Spencer Buckley).

• Hot Start at Home
With a 7-1 record at home, the Gauchos are currently off to their best eight-match start to a home schedule in the MPSF era (since 1993). Since the start of last season, UCSB has been demonstrably better on its home court, putting together a winning percentage of .720 at Rob Gym compared to a .333 winning percentage on the road.

• Energy Needed Early
The first set has proved to be a good indicator of success in UCSB's matches so far in 2014. The winner of the first set in matches involving the Gauchos has gone 13-2 this year.

• Dependent on Digs
Moreso than any other statistic, an advantage in digs has been the best predictor of a winner in UCSB's matches. The Gauchos are undefeated in the nine matches where they have outdug their opponents, but are just 1-5 in matches where they are outdug. Chad Kingi (2.07 digs per set) and Jonah Seif (1.93 per set) are the only individual Gauchos among the top-15 conference-wide, but Evan Licht (1.66) and Austin Kingi (1.57) are both knocking on the door.

• Top Defense
As they have the majority of the season, the Gauchos currently sport the best defense in the MPSF with a .215 opponents' hitting percentage. UCSB is actuall far away from the pack in this category, as their 20 point advantage over second-best USC (.235) is larger that USC's lead on sixth-best UCI (.251).

• Serving Hot and Cold
The Gauchos have maintained relatively stable rates in kills, digs, and blocks per set over the season, but their serving has fluctuated pretty wildly. Over the past four matches in particular, UCSB has recorded seven or more aces on two occassions (they won both times), but have been shutout in the ace department twice as well (they lost both times). The Gauchos went through the whole 2013 season without recording no aces in a match. Overall, UCSB ranks fifth in the conference in aces per set at 1.29, as Evan Licht (0.31 aces per set, eighth best in the MPSF), Jonah Seif (0.29, 11th), Austin Kingi (0.25, 14th), and Matt Hanley (0.21) have been standouts for the Gauchos from the service line.

• Hot Hand Hanley
With 20 kills and a .731 hitting percentage in a three-set win last week, senior outside hitter Matt Hanley recorded a historic performance for UCSB. His attack percentage was the highest qualifying clip by a UCSB outside in the Rick McLaughlin era, and his 6.67 kills per set were the most since Gaucho legend Jeff Menzel had 6.75 per set (27 kills in four games) in the first round of the 2011 MPSF Playoffs at BYU.