Feb. 11, 2011
The seventh-ranked Gauchos extended their winning streak to three matches on Friday night, topping the fifth-ranked UCLA Bruins 3-1 (23-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-20). The win was the fifth of the campaign, including pre-seaon, over the Bruins-marking the first time UCSB has beat UCLA five times in a single season. UCSB improved its record to 8-5 with a 6-4 mark in MPSF play. UCLA, losers of five straight, drop to last place in the conference with a 7-7 overall record, 2-6 MPSF.
The Gauchos attack was led by two familiar faces, senior outside hitter Jeff Menzel and senior opposite Cullen Irons, who finished with 18 and 16 kills respectively. Menzel's 18 kills were a season-high, and his 35 kills over the week marked his highest two-match output of the season.
The night did start off auspiciously for the Gauchos, who dropped the first set of the match while hitting a measly .120 as a team. UCSB was also unable to contain UCLA's Gonzalo Quiroga, who recorded kills on all five of his attacks. Senior middle blocker Scott Slaughter, whose quick hit is a mainstay on the Gaucho attack, did not register an attack attempt in the first game.
However, the Gauchos came out roaring at the start of the second game. With Slaughter serving, UCSB captured the first eight points of the set, including a pair of service aces from Slaughter, who finished the night with three aces. Slaughter also turned in six blocks on the evening. That big lead was never relinquished, as six Menzel kills and 13 assists from senior setter Vince Devany put the set away.
"Scott was outstanding tonight," said Head Coach Rick McLaughlin, "he was real big tonight. He kick-started our team in the second game after that tough first set."
At the beginning of the third set, it looked as if the Gauchos were going to run away again after getting out to an early 3-0 lead behind senior outside hitter Trey Valbuena's serve. However, the Bruins battled the Gauchos the entire set, as the score was tied as late as 22-22. The set ended on an impressive kill from Irons, whose five kills for the set were equaled by teammate Jeff Menzel.
The decisive fourth set was taken by the Gauchos on the back of strong serving and solid play from senior libero Andy McGuire. Three different Gauchos- Menzel, Devany, and Slaughter, recorded aces in the fourth set. Later in the set, with the Gauchos up 13-7, McGuire, who finished the night with five digs, made a sprawling dig off of a Kyle Caldwell attack that led to an emphatic kill from Irons. UCSB never looked back, completing the season sweep of the Bruins.
When asked about the Gauchos strong play against the Bruins, McLaughlin said, "they're not a bad team. Sometimes they play young guys, which will work out for them in the future. We just match up well. Beating them in pre-season certainly helped, gave our guys the confidence to know that it could happen."
Next up for the Gauchos are the BYU Cougars, who come to town next week for a two-game series at Rob Gym. The Cougars topped the Gauchos in their first meeting this year in the final of the Gaucho Collegiate Invitational. BYU is ranked second in the nation, but are also coming off their third loss of the season on Friday night, falling to unranked Loyola-Chicago.
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 Intercollegiate Athletics Ticket Office has two parking spaces adjacent to the building and is now open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., making it easier than ever for fans to purchase tickets. The two parking spots, designated specifically for the Ticket Office, are also available during weekday hours, which are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
GKids is the official kids club of UCSB Athletics. Members receive a free GKids t-shirt, free admittance to tons of Gaucho games, opportunities to be ball boys and girls at games, a special birthday greeting from Olie (the GKids mascot) and much, much more! For more information on GKids, or to become a member, please click here.