April 12, 2008
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Men's volleyball coach Ken Preston ended his 30-year coaching career at UC Santa Barbara in exciting fashion with a 3-1 defeat of UC San Diego Saturday at Robertson Gymnasium. Three out of four games went to extra points with the 14th-ranked Gauchos taking a 31-33, 30-17, 31-29, 32-30 win to end their 2008 campaign.
UCSB finished the year with a 10-17 overall record and went 7-15 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF). UCSD ended their season at 10-19 and 6-16. Both teams entered tonight's match with identical MPSF records, so the win secured a 10th-place finish in the league for Santa Barbara.
Preston, who took over the helm of the UCSB program in 1979, finished his 30-year stint with a 516-381 overall record, good for a .575 winning percentage.
Brunner, a 2007 AVCA All-American, had a stellar last match with 15 kills, seven blocks, and 19 points. He hit a match-high .667 with one error in 21 sets. Freshman opposite Jeff Menzel posted a career and match-high 26 kills on a grueling 49 attempts. He also led the match in point production with 29.5. Mathews hit double figures in kills with 11 and added a match-high eight digs and four aces. Middle Scott Slaughter joined Brunner at the net to tally seven blocks as UCSB held a 15.5 to 13 edge in that department.
UC San Diego had three players with 10 or more kills including Jason Spangler (21), Frank Fritsch (14), and Russ Hardy (11), who was playing in his final match as UCSD's lone senior. Calvin Ross had seven blocks and setter Phil Bannan ran his assist total to 55.
Overall, Santa Barbara hit .310 (63-27-116) to San Diego's .225 (58-31-120). After posting a lackluster .133 attack in the opening set, the Gauchos poured it on in games two and three, hitting .483 and .455, respectively.
UCSB took an early 2-0 lead in the fourth frame, but quickly found itself down by as many as seven points as late as 27-20. Three straight UCSD errors, one from the service line and two on the attack, brought UCSB back within four points at 27-23. Following a kill by Hardy, the Gauchos posted another three consecutive points on a kill and an ace by Mathews and a block by Mike Runkle and Slaughter, making the score 28-26 in favor of the Tritons. A kill from Menzel would tie the game at 29, but another Hardy kill put San Diego up by one again. Menzel again tied the match at 30 all with a kill, and a pair of blocks by Brunner and Runkle completed the comeback win.
Overall, the match was tied 24 times, but the lead changed on just four occasions.
In the opening set, it was close the whole way through. Tied at 31-31, Hardy and Spangler posted back-to-back kills to take the game. The second game was all Santa Barbara. After taking the lead at 7-6, the Gauchos would not trail again. Game three saw UCSB play from behind for much of it. Down by as many as five points, Santa Barbara rallied to tie it at 25 on a Mathews kill. The Gauchos took their first lead of the game on a Menzel kill that made it 30-29. Brunner finished it off with a kill.
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