Double-Double from Irons Not Enough as Gauchos Fall to Long Beach State

Jan. 13, 2010

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Cullen Irons contributed a double-double with 21 kills and 10 digs but the No. 14 UCSB men's volleyball team lost its third five-set match in less than a week, falling to No. 9 Long Beach State, 3-2, in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) play Wednesday night at Rob Gym. Game scores were 23-30, 30-24, 24-30, 30-26, and 15-9 in favor of the 49ers.

Jeff Menzel had a solid night for the Gauchos (0-4 overall, 0-1 MPSF), tallying 25 kills on 55 total attacks. True freshman Dylan Davis provided solid productivity at the middle blocker position, swinging at a .688 (11-0-16) clip while adding four blocks. Andy McGuire had a match-high 22 digs and Vince Devany dished out a match-high 63 assists.

Jim Baughman (19), Dean Bittner (17), and Dan Alexander (10) recorded double-digit kills as Long Beach State improved to 2-2 overall, 1-0 in the MPSF. Kirk Francis had 17 digs and Conor Eaton totaled 53 assists on the night.

"I really think our intensity as a team was there tonight," said UCSB head coach Rick McLaughlin, "If we can keep this up we are going to get some wins."

The loss marks the second time the Gauchos have let a 2-1 lead slip away against the 49ers in less than a week. In the second round of last Thursday's Santa Barbara Invitational, UCSB hit just .089 throughout the final two frames to fall, 3-2.

It looked like the Gauchos would get revenge from the outset, as Devany and Davis set the tone early with two clean blocks on the 49ers' first two attack attempts. The Gauchos would put up 7.5 team blocks during the set, holding LBSU to just a .030 hitting percentage. The Gauchos would win the first set 30-23 to take the 1-0 lead.

After LBSU tied the match, UCSB launched 19 kills on 38 attack attempts with only five errors in the third frame while posting a .368 team hitting percentage. Menzel had seven kills and Devany passed out 16 assists as the Gauchos won, 30-24.

In the fifth frame, a pair of kills from Irons and Davis gave the gauchos a quick 5-2 lead. After an LBSU timeout and side-out, Alexander rattled off three consecutive aces to give the 49ers a 6-5 lead. Baughman and Colten Echave followed with kills and Alexander added another ace, increasing the lead to 9-5.

The Gauchos would crawl back to 9-10 on a cannon by Menzel, but Long Beach would win the next five points and take the final frame, 15-9.

"The serving in the fifth set really made the difference," said McLaughlin, "[Long Beach] did a really good job at making it difficult for us to get a pass off."

The Gauchos out-hit the 49ers .212 (71-36-165) to .200 (60-30-150) and out-blocked LBSU, 16.5 to 12.5.

UCSB will face No. 11 UC San Diego on Saturday, January 16th, at 7 pm in Rob Gym. The Gauchos recently fell to the Tritons 2-3 in the seventh-place match of January 8th's Santa Barbara Invitational.