April 23, 2011
Provo, Utah - For the second time this season, No. 7 UCSB upset the second-ranked BYU Cougars, advancing to the second round of the MPSF playoffs by virtue of a 3-1 victory. Game scores were 25-21, 23-25, 26-24, 25-22. The defeat was the first loss for BYU at home all season. It was UCSB's first playoff victory since the 2007 season, when they beat the UCLA Bruins in the first round of that year's tournament. The last time UCSB and BYU matched up in the postseason, the Gauchos earned a similar result, upsetting BYU back in 2005. UCSB's goal of a national championship remains alive as they will head to Long Beach next Thursday for the conference semifinal match. UCSB's record improved to 15-14, 12-11 in conference play, while BYU will finish the year with a 20-8 record and a 16-7 MPSF mark.
For Saturday's match, the Gauchos were led by senior outside hitter Jeff Menzel. Jeff, who was just this week named to the All-MPSF first team, continued his hot streak by recording a season-high 27 kills. Menzel hit .373 for the match and added a match-high 8 digs to his solid statline. BYU entered the game having won seven consecutive matches, but UCSB seemed unfazed, coming out roaring in the first set. As a team, they hit .324 for the set while holding the Cougars to a match-low 21 points.
Though the Gauchos dropped a tightly contested second game, they avenged that loss by taking the final two sets on the back of Menzel's dominant play. UCSB hit a lofty .478 in the decisive fourth set while holding the Cougars to a .235 clip for the match.
Senior opposite Cullen Irons also had a strong match for the Gauchos, racking up 13 kills and three blocks. He and Menzel combined for 40 kills. Scott Slaughter, an All-MPSF second-teamer, had seven kills and a team-high seven blocks. Senior setter Vince Devany, an All-MPSF honorable mention, eclipsed the 50-assist mark for the fifth time this season, finishing with 52.
The Cougars were led by some usual suspects- outsides Robb Stowell (19 kills) and Taylor Sander (15 kills) continued their strong attacking while middle blocker Futi Tavana gave the Gauchos fits again, compiling a match-high nine blocks on the match, his highest total in a match against the Gauchos this year.
Next week, the Gauchos will face off against No. 6 Long Beach State, who upset No. 3 Stanford, in the conference semifinal on Thursday night. It will be their first time reaching the semifinals since the 2007 season. UCSB was 0-2 against the 49ers this season.