No. 10 UCSB Sweeps Pacific, Will Face Top-Ranked Stanford Saturday Night
April 2, 2010
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The No. 10 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team snapped its longest losing streak of the season, sweeping Pacific, 3-0, in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play Friday night at Rob Gym. Set scores were 30-22, 30-27, and 30-26 in favor of UCSB.
With the win, UCSB improved to 11-13, 8-10 in the MPSF while Pacific dropped to 8-17 overall, 0-17 in conference play.
The Gauchos had dropped their previous five contests, with their last win coming on March 3 against UC Irvine. The sweep of Pacific marked the first time the Gauchos had beaten an opponent in straight sets at home this season.
"This was a big win for us, especially getting it done in three sets," UCSB head coach Rick McLaughlin said. "It gives us a chance to rest our legs a bit for tomorrow night's match against the number one team in the country."
Jeff Menzel led the way with 14 kills, hitting .333 with seven digs and three block assists. Blaine Nielsen made the most of his third start of the season, connecting with seven kills and totaling a match high 15 digs. Jake Rosener finished with 10 kills and five digs. Vince Devany dished out a match high 40 assists.
For the Tigers, Christian Ahlin and Florian Gornik tallied 10 kills while Sean Daley and Jason Borchin followed with eight kills apiece. Libero Mark Bauhs dug seven balls, with Patrick Tunnell contributing six digs and 38 assists.
In the first set, the Gauchos extended their lead to as much as four before the Tigers climbed back to 15-14. Nielsen and Rosener connected on their next attack attempts and were followed by a pair of Pacific errors, making it 19-14 in favor of UCSB. The Tigers would not be able to nudge within four points the rest of the way as the Gauchos cruised, 30-22, to take a 1-0 lead. Menzel hit .667 in the first set, connecting on four of six swing attempts with no errors.
The Gauchos got out to a 4-3 lead in the second frame, but the teams traded points until a kill by Ahlin, a Slaughter error and an ace from the Tigers' Taylor Hughes gave Pacific a two-point lead at 16-14. Eventually a Menzel kill and a Pacific serving error evened the match, 17-17. Kills from Ahlin and Tunnell made it 22-20 in favor of Pacific. After Slaughter answered with a straight-down kill of his own, Pacific extended its lead to three, 24-21, on cannons from Gornik and Daley. After a Tiger error, Dylan Davis and Menzel would combine for a block on consecutive plays, making it even, 24-24. The Gauchos would take back the lead on a hitting error from Gornik, extending their lead to two, 28-26, on kills from Menzel and Nielsen. The Gauchos would win two of the next three points, taking the set, 30-27.
Through the first two frames, Nielsen hit .750 (7-1-8) and scooped 14 digs, doubling his previous season high of seven (2/13/10 vs. UC San Diego).
Pacific jumped out to an 8-5 lead early in the third stanza, capitalizing on a -.286 (2-4-7) team hitting percentage from the Gauchos to start. However, a pair of errors by the Tigers and Rosener's ace tied the match at 8-8. The Tigers would open up a two-point lead, but a kill and block by Menzel evened the match at 20-20. Menzel would give the Gauchos the lead with an ace and a kill from Davis gave UCSB a 23-21 cushion. Pacific battled back to even the score, 25-25, but then committed three consecutive errors, giving the Gauchos a three-point lead. A Menzel kill was answered on Hughes' next attempt, but a thundering kill from Davis gave the Gauchos the match, 30-26.
Coming into the match, the Gauchos sat in ninth place in the MPSF, a single game behind Long Beach State for eighth place and the final ticket to the postseason conference tournament. Long Beach State lost to BYU on Thursday night, 3-1 (30-28, 28-30, 30-21, and 15-10) and the two teams were still playing the second leg of their series when tonight's Pacific-UCSB match ended.
In UCSB and Pacific's previous match on January 29 in Stockton, the Gauchos out-hit the Tigers .378 to .090. Cullen Irons led the way for UCSB with 15 kills and Scott Slaughter hit a career-high .833 (10-0-12) in the process, tying him for the sixth highest hitting percentage in a single match in UCSB history. Set scores were 30-24, 30-16, and 30-21 in favor of UCSB as the win gave the team its first three match winning streak since 2008. The Gauchos have won three or more matches in a row twice thus far this season.
UCSB faces a tall task Saturday night as it takes on top ranked Stanford at 7 p.m. in Rob Gym. The Gauchos previously upset then No. 2 Stanford, 3-1, on January 28th, with set scores of 30-28, 31-29, 28-30, and 31-29. The Cardinal out-hit the Gauchos .384 to .336, but four UCSB players finished the match with double digit kill totals, led by Menzel (23) and Irons (22).
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