Feb. 21, 2009
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - In yet another five-set thriller, 13th-ranked UC Santa Barbara came up short and lost, 3-2, to No. 7 Stanford in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) men's volleyball action Saturday at Robertson Gymnasium. Down by as many as four points twice in the fifth set, the Cardinal rallied to win, with scores going 30-26, 26-30, 24-30, 30-21, and 15-13.
Five of UCSB's last seven matches have gone to five sets. Unfortunately, the Gauchos have come up on the losing end in four of those and now hold a 4-9 overall record with a 2-8 mark in MPSF play. Stanford improved to 9-7 overall and 5-6 in the league.
UCSB had leads of 7-3 and 10-6 in the fifth and deciding set. Down 12-9, Stanford rattled off five straight points that included a pair of service aces from Kawika Shoji. The Gauchos were able to stave off one match point with a kill by Jeff Menzel, but Spencer McLachlin ended it with his 22nd kill of the match, handing UCSB another heartbreaking loss.
UCSB setter Vince DeVany tallied a career-best 78 assists on the night, notching 21 of those in the third set. Four Gauchos set or tied career-highs in kills, including Menzel (29), Cullen Irons (19), Scott Slaughter (15), and Sam Moisenco (14). Irons completed a double-double with 10 digs, while Mike Runkle led UCSB defensively with 17 digs. The Gauchos hit .314 (84-30-172) for the match.
Brad Lawson and McLachlin led the Cardinal with 22 kills apiece. McLachlin posted a double-double with 11 kills. Erik Shoji amassed 20 digs and Garrett Warner had six blocks. Stanford hit .340 (76-22-159) as a team on the night and out-blocked the Gauchos, 12-10.
Stanford hit .548 in the opening frame, while UCSB swung at a respectable .387. The Gauchos improved to .444 in the second set, while the Cardinal dropped all the way down to .188. The third set saw UCSB keep up its intensity as the team hit .381 to Stanford's .333, but the Gauchos faltered in the fourth set, hitting a match-low .143 and never leading.
"We are close to being a great team but we're not over the hump yet," Menzel said, "We're going to get there eventually. A match like this can only make us better. We know what we have to do to win."
After playing 10 of its first 13 matches at home, UCSB now heads out on its longest road swing of the season. The Gauchos play at USC on Feb. 26, at Pepperdine on Feb. 28, and at Hawai'i on Mar. 5 and Mar. 6.
The next home match will be a non-conference tilt against George Mason on Mar. 11 (7 p.m.). Tickets are available online through Ticket Return, by calling the Athletics Ticket Office at (805) 893-UCSB, or by visiting the ticket office in the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus. ---
**UCSB - a nationally recognized university in both academic and athletic excellence - is located on the central coast of California in a picturesque campus and community setting on the Pacific Ocean. Each year over 450 Division 1 Gaucho student-athletes compete for national championships, succeed in the classroom, and give back to the community.**
- UCSBgauchos.com -