No. 1 USC Pulls Away From No. 6 UCSB

Jan. 26, 2011

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team gave top-ranked USC a good run for the Trojans' first loss of the season, but USC outlasted the No. 6 Gauchos in every game, winning 25-20, 25-22, 25-22 in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match on Wednesday night.

Behind a raucous Rob Gym crowd, the Gauchos were in every set, as the Trojans improved to 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the MPSF. No. 6 UCSB falls to 4-4, 2-3.

Cullen Irons led the Gauchos with a match-high 14 kills while Jeff Menzel had nine putaways and Scott Slaughter added eight. Slaughter also had a solo block and two block assists.

After dropping the first set in which the Gauchos held an early 3-1 lead and were down just four in the final moments, UCSB and the Trojans traded early points in the second set. Tied at 11-11, Southern California went on a 6-2 run before Irons' serving and stellar play from Trey Valbuena brought the Gauchos back.

Trailing 23-16, Irons notched a kill, then took to serving UCSB back in it. He rattled off five straight points to make it 23-22 and USC seemed ready to crumble with two hitting errors and two mental miscues. However, Irons' luck ran out with a serving error and attack error and USC went up 2-0.

In the third set, the two teams again were in a see-saw battle, tied at 16-16, before USC pulled away at 22-18. The Gauchos then got as close as 23-22 on a USC attack error, but another Gaucho service error and a hitting error finished off the night.

UCSB continues its homestand on Friday when the Gauchos host Pepperdine at 7 p.m. at Rob Gym. This is a Faculty Free Friday match and tickets are available by calling (805) 893-UCSB or click here.