April 11, 2007
Los Angeles, Calif. - The fifth-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team defeated No. 12 USC 3-0 Wednesday at the Galen Center and assured itself of hosting a home match in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Tournament. The Gauchos hit a torrid .489 and committed no attack errors through the first two games.
Scores of the match were 30-24, 30-15, and 30-25. UCSB, which has won four straight, improved to 19-10 overall and 14-7 in the MPSF, while USC fell to 12-14 and 9-12.
The victory secured the fourth seed for UCSB in the league playoffs and it will host fourth-ranked UCLA in a quarterfinal match at Robertson Gymnasium on April 21. UCLA, the reigning national champion, defeated Long Beach State Wednesday to earn the fifth seed in the tournament.
Opposite Evan Patak, who leads the nation in kills, paced UCSB with a match-high 20 kills and 24 points. Middle Theo Brunner totaled 13 kills and hit .800, while outside Bryan Berman followed with eight kills and hit .727. Setter Max Klineman had 45 assists and libero Ben Brockman posted a match-best 10 digs.
USC, which hit just .182 for the match, got 15 kills out of Juan Figueroa. Jimmy Killian and C.J. Schellenberg each had five digs.
Santa Barbara, which has won the past seven meetings between the two teams, out-blocked Troy 6.5 to 1.0.
In the first game, the two squads traded points until the score was knotted at 5-5. It remained close and was tied 16-16 when a USC miscue from the service line gave the Gauchos the lead for good. UCSB went on to tally three unanswered points on kills by Brunner and Patak and a Trojan hitting error, giving it a 21-17 lead. Two more USC errors and an ace by Klineman enabled UCSB to go up 25-19 and the Trojans would get no closer than five points the rest of the way. UCSB had 18 kills in 22 attempts, good for an attack percentage of .818. Patak had seven kills and three digs and Brunner put away all five of his attempts.
Game two was more of the same as UCSB hit .667 with 16 kills and no errors in 24 attacks. Again, the score was close early and tied 5-5, but Berman dropped in a pair of service aces and added a kill to give the Gauchos an 8-5 lead. At 15-11, Santa Barbara went on another three-point spree on kills from middle David Kennedy and Patak and a Trojan error to move its lead to seven points. Patak and outside hitter Armen Zakarian each posted three kills the rest of the way to lead the Gauchos to the easy 30-15 win.
The Gauchos had their first hitting error of the night at 7-7 in the third game. In fact, they had 10 gaffes in the set and hit .214, but the Trojans helped out by swinging at .054. The game seesawed until 14-14 when UCSB scored seven of the next eight points to open a 21-15 lead.
It is the fourth straight season and ninth time overall that UCSB has advanced to the MPSF Tournament. Last year, the Gauchos lost 3-1 against UCLA in the play-in match. The Bruins have won two of three contests against UCSB so far this season.
USC is still alive for a playoff spot as it needs one win or a Pacific loss. The Trojans host No. 8 Cal State Northridge April 14 while the Tigers, ranked 14th, entertain No. 2 BYU on April 13 and 14.
UCSB wraps up its regular season at No. 1 Pepperdine on April 14 at 7 p.m. The Waves have already clinched the top seed in the conference tourney and will enjoy a bye in the quarterfinals. Pepperdine will play host to the semis on April 26 and the final on April 28.