UCSB found itself with the opportunity to claim the championship of the Gaucho Collegiate Invitational for the first time since 2001, but was unable to penetrate the defense of the BYU Cougars, falling by a score of 3-1 (15-25,25-18, 25-18, 25-19). The Gauchos claimed second place, and now look ahead to the beginning of conference play next weekend, beginning at UC San Diego on Friday, Jan. 14.
Initially, it looked like the Gauchos were ready to imitate the team that had dominated MPSF foes Cal State Northridge and UCLA in the previous day. Senior opposite Cullen Irons had five of his eight kills in the first set to go along with 4 from both senior outside hitter Jeff Menzel and senior middle blocker Scott Slaughter, who finished with 15 and 5 respectively. UCSB breezed to a 25-15 win in the first set.
But soon thereafter, the wheels began to come off. The Gauchos recorded eight service errors in the second set alone, and they finished with 16. The Gauchos were often unable to get their attacks past the BYU front line. The Cougars finished with 17 blocks overall, highlighted by Otavio Souza's impressive line of 2 solo blocks and 10 block assists. The Cougars defense, and the poor serving by the Gauchos became the recurring motif of the rest of the match. Head Coach Rick McLaughlin summarized the match as such: "We served and passed well in the first. After that, our serving broke down and theirs got better. The passing switch-ended too. BYU is always a good blocking team, and when you make it easy on them like we did tonight, this is what happens."
UCSB dropped the second and third sets by identical scores of 18-25, before McLaughlin pulled many of his starters, including Irons and senior setter Vince Devany.
The youthful Gauchos' second unit battled admirably, highlighted by sophomore setter Oliver Deutschman's eight assists. But ultimately, BYU claimed the final set, and the Championship. Tournament MVP Taylor Sander led the Cougars with 16 kills and a .500 hitting percentage on 28 attacks.
While disappointment was evident among the Gauchos, the second place finish in the tournament could have provided a glimpse of the success UCSB could attain this season. Cullen Irons commented "we feel real good. At the end of the year, you can look for the Gauchos at the top. We didn't have it today, but it was just one bad game and we're still ready to go."
McLaughlin reiterated the Gauchos playoff aspirations, saying "The MPSF is good from top to bottom. We've got the talent to make the playoffs and that's our goal. Once we get there, we'll see what happens."
The Gauchos open conference play next weekend, Jan. 14 at UC San Diego. They play at UC Irvine the following night. The first home conference game will be held Wednesday, Jan. 26 at Rob Gym.
To purchase tickets, please call (805) 893-UCSB, visit the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or buy online and print at home by clicking here.
The Gaucho Fund, launched as part of the Dare to Be Great strategic plan, is UCSB Athletics' annual giving program to provide vital funding support for scholarships, academic success and leadership development for Gaucho student-athletes. The Gaucho Fund is the anchor to the Dare to Be Great campaign.
Gauchos Drop Final of Gaucho Collegiate Invitational
August 16, 2011 Menzel, Team USA Improve to 3-1 at World University Games
August 12, 2011 Menzel, Davis Represent USA in International Play
May 7, 2011 UCSB Unable to Capture NCAA Championship
May 5, 2011 Davis Leads Gauchos Over USC, Into NCAA Finals
May 3, 2011 Menzel Named AVCA Player of the Week
May 2, 2011 No. 3 Gauchos Head to NCAA Final Four
April 30, 2011 Gauchos Topple No. 1 USC, Capture MPSF Championship
April 29, 2011 Menzel, McGuire Named to AVCA All-American Team
April 29, 2011 No. 5 UCSB Reaches MPSF Championship Match, Take on USC
April 27, 2011 No. 5 UCSB Heads to Conference Final Four, Take on LBSU
April 22, 2011 No. 7 UCSB Heads to No. 2 BYU to Kick Off MPSF Tournament
April 21, 2011 Four Gauchos Earn All-MPSF Honors
April 16, 2011 UCSB Ends Regular Season With Loss Against No. 1 USC
April 14, 2011 Gauchos Upset by Pepperdine
April 8, 2011 Gauchos Stun No. 3 Stanford on Senior Night
April 7, 2011 No. 15 Pacific Upsets No. 6 Gauchos, 3-2
March 31, 2011 Gauchos Clinch Playoff Spot With Win Over Tritons
March 31, 2011 No. 8 UCSB Tries to Clinch a Playoff Spot Against UCI, UCSD
March 13, 2011 Gauchos Roll Over Lewis to Finish Up Active Ankle Tournament
March 11, 2011 UCSB Drops First Game of Long Beach Tournament to Penn State
March 4, 2011 Gauchos, Menzel Dominate CSUN
March 2, 2011 Gauchos Fall to Long Beach State
March 2, 2011 Men's Volleyball vs. LBSU Moved to Rec Cen
March 2, 2011 No. 4 Gauchos Return Home to Host Long Beach State, CSUN
February 27, 2011 UCSB Falls in Heartbreaker to Stanford
February 25, 2011 Gauchos Drop Pacific in Four
February 24, 2011 Gauchos Rise to Third in Rankings, Head North
February 18, 2011 UCSB Earns Split in BYU Series
February 17, 2011 Gauchos Fall to BYU in Four
February 16, 2011 Men's Volleyball Moves to T-Dome For This Weeks Matches
February 16, 2011 Gauchos Set for No. 2 BYU
February 11, 2011 Gauchos Top Bruins
February 9, 2011 Gauchos Top Bruins Behind Menzel's 17 Kills
February 8, 2011 Gauchos Prepare for Bruins
February 5, 2011 Gauchos Earn Split in Hawai'i Series
February 4, 2011 Gauchos Fall to Hawai'i
February 1, 2011 Gauchos Cross the Pacific, Battle Hawai'i
January 28, 2011 Gauchos Roll Over Waves, 3-0
January 28, 2011 Gauchos Look to Break Cold Streak Against Waves
January 26, 2011 No. 1 USC Pulls Away From No. 6 UCSB
January 25, 2011 No. 6 Gauchos Battle Top-Ranked USC on Wednesday at Robertson Gym
January 21, 2011 No. 5 Gauchos Blast Cal State Northridge, 3-0
January 19, 2011 Gauchos Continue Road Swing
January 18, 2011 Volleyball Drops Match At Long Beach State
January 15, 2011 UCSB Falls to UC Irvine in Straight Sets
January 14, 2011 Gauchos Sweep Tritons
January 13, 2011 Gauchos Kick Off 2011 Season
January 8, 2011 Gauchos Drop Final of Gaucho Collegiate Invitational
January 7, 2011 Gauchos Sweep Day One, Advance to Finals
January 5, 2011 UCSB Set to Host Gaucho Collegiate Invitational
January 4, 2011 Gauchos Win Tune-Up Match
January 3, 2011 Gauchos Ready to Roll
November 30, 2010 Gauchos Roll in Final Fall Tournament
August 20, 2010 U.S. Juniors Will Play for NORCECA Gold Saturday
August 18, 2010 U.S. Juniors Win Pool After Sweeping Mexico
August 17, 2010 U.S. Junior National Team Goes to 2-0 After Sweeping Martinique