Gauchos Commence MPSF Play, Host UC Irvine and UC San Diego

Parker Boehle (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Parker Boehle (Photo by Tony Mastres)

• The Schedule
Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 7 PM PST
No. 12 UCSB (3-0) vs No. 7 UC Irvine (4-0, 1-0 MPSF)
at Rob Gym
Series record / Streak vs. the Anteaters – 46-28 / Won 1
2016 series: 1-1

Friday, Jan. 13 at 7 PM PST
No. 12 UCSB vs UC San Diego (0-2, 0-1 MPSF)
at Rob Gym
Series record / Streak vs. the Tritons – 36-8 / Won 7
2016 series: 2-0

• Checking the Polls
Despite going 3-0 last week, UCSB remained at No. 12 in this week's AVCA Men's Division I-II Poll. UC Irvine is ranked No. 7 in the same poll and UC San Diego is unranked. 

• The Week in Review
The Gauchos started the 2017 season off on a high note, going an undefeated 3-0 in the UCSB Asics/South Coast Inn-vitational last weekend. UCSB started off with four-set victories over McKendree and Mount Olive on Friday before sweeping Fort Wayne (formerly IPFW) on Saturday night in the final match of the tournament. UCSB has now won 12 straight matches in its annual season-opening tournament dating back to 2013. Other teams in the tourney field included Quincy and MPSF rivals Long Beach State, Stanford, and CSUN. 

• Delson Goes Off
The Asics Invitational turned out to be a weekend to remember for senior outside Jacob Delson. Slated to be the Gauchos' go-to outside, he totaled 54 kills for the weekend (4.9 per set) including a career-high 21 against Mount Olive. He put the ball away basically at will, hitting over .500 in two of three matches while hitting at .413 clip overall. He was also on his game from the service line, totaling seven aces including three straight to close out McKendree. The Westlake Village, Calif. native recorded the No. 1, 3, and 5 single-match kill totals of his career on the weekend, and was an MPSF Player of the Week nominee. 

• Cherry on Top
As a redshirt freshman in 2016, Henri Cherry finished with a .486 season hitting percentage which would have led the NCAA if he had enough attacks to qualify. The 6-6 middle is off to an ever more efficient start on the attack this year, as his 23-0-30 line has produced a .767 hitting percentage that leads the entire MPSF. His best performance of the weekend came against McKendree with 11 kills on 13 swings and a career-high three aces.

• Young Setters Getting the Job Done
UCSB debuted a pair of highly-tauted freshman setters last weekend, and both excelled when on the court, leading the team to a conference-leading 13.82 assists per game average. Randy DeWeese, who stands 6-6, started the opening match and had a solid all-around performance accruing 45 assists, two aces, seven digs, and four blocks over four sets. He added 11 assists in one game against Fort Wayne on Saturday. Casey McGarry meanwhile started the other two matches and had a spectacular 12.3 assists per game average, including a 53-assist performance against Mount Olive. 

• Bright Future
Though UCSB graduated four of its six starters from a season ago, the future looks bright for head coach Rick McLaughin's program as 2017's freshman class was ranked as the No. 5 recruiting class in the country by Volleyball Magazine. This year's recruit class is led by Fab-50 List members Randy DeWeese (setter), Roy McFarland (outside), Casey McGarry (setter), Davis Boehle (setter/libero), Keenan Sanders (middle), and Jack Truman (middle). 

• Big West Adds Men's Volleyball
2017 will be the last season in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation for UCSB, as the Gauchos will be an inaugural member when the Big West Conference adds men's volleyball for the 2018 season. Fellow Big West institutions CSUN, Long Beach State, UC Irvine, Hawaii, and associate member UC San Diego will constitute the six-team league. 

• Renaissance Rick
UCSB has thrived in recent years under the direction of head coach Rick McLaughlin, recording a 73-45 record (.619 winning percentage) and going to the playoffs each year over the past four seasons. The Gauchos have now made the postseason in five of McLaughlin's eight years, including the program's historic run to the National Championship match in 2011.