April 28, 2011
LOS ANGELES - The Gauchos continued their winning postseason ways on Thursday night, pulling off their second consecutive upset in the MPSF tourney, this time against No. 3 (and the sixth seed in the MPSF tourney) Long Beach State University by a score of 3-1 (25-17, 26-28, 25-20, 25-23). With the win, the Gauchos will advance to the Conference Championship Match for the first time since 1996, when most of the current Gauchos roster was in grade school. UCSB's record now sits at 16-14, which is the lowest of the three remaining teams. However, chances are the Gauchos do not care about records at this point, as they have established as much momentum in the past two matches as they have at any point during the entire season.
Leading the way for the Gauchos was senior outside hitter Jeff Menzel, who was just today named to the All-American First Team. Menzel, who was also honored as an All-MPSF first teamer, led the match with 23 kills, and displayed the dominance that allowed him to lead the nation in kills last season.
In the first set, the Long Beach State 49ers got off to a hot start, capturing the first three points of the match. Their momentum appeared to slow when setter Connor Olbright injured his hand, necessitating a tape job. That allowed the Gauchos middle defense to set the tone for the match. UCSB outblocked LBSU 15.0 to 8.5 as a team, in a bit of a reversal from the teams' previous match-ups. Senior setter Vince Devany effectively flicked sets back to senior opposite Cullen Irons, which kept the Long Beach defense off balance for senior outside hitter Jeff Menzel. Devany would finish the night with 44 assists. As a team, UCSB outhit the 49ers .357 to .227, reflecting a season-long strength in restricting the opposing attack the beginning of the match. UCSB won the first set by a sizable margin of 25-17.
Though the Gauchos dropped the second set 28-26, they received one of the strongest defensive performances of the season from Cullen Irons. Irons had four of his 11 digs in the game, while initiating what might have been the play of the game: with the Gauchos down 13-10, Cullen laid flat out and scooped up a "pancake" dig after a long rally which promptly led to a kill from Menzel. Menzel chipped in another eight kills in the set. The game was a tight one-it took Long Beach until the fourth game-point to put away UCSB. Josh Riley clinched the set for the 49ers, picking up a pair of kills (one a cross-court spike and one a deflection off the Gaucho block wall) with the score tied 26-26.
The third set saw the Gauchos pull away a bit, as they jumped out to an early 10-3 lead. The Gauchos never relinquished the lead, taking the game with relative ease, 25-20. Scott Slaughter paced the Gauchos in game number three, picking up a kill on each of his six attacks for a perfect hitting percentage. Overall, Scott had one of the his most impressive attacking nights on the season. Already the conference leader in hitting percentage, Slaughter finished with 11 kills on just 14 attacks for a .786 hitting percentage, tops among all eligible hitters. Scott also tied sophomore middle blocker Dylan Davis for the match lead in blocks with seven.
The decisive fourth set was the most closely contested of the night, featuring 14 ties and four lead changes. Six kills from Jeff Menzel kept the Gauchos in the game. With the score tied 23-23, a hard Menzel serve was unable to be handled by Long Beach State libero Kirk Francis, and his over pass was smashed for a kill by senior outside hitter Trey Valbuena, who finished the night with five kills and nine blocks. On the ensuing match point, a triple-block from Devany, Irons, and Davis sealed the match for UCSB.
Senior libero Andy McGuire, who was also named an All-American today as a second-teamer, had a strong overall match. He finished with 12 digs, his most since he recorded 13 against Stanford on Apr. 8. An All-MPSF Second Team choice, Andy has now recorded seven or more digs in six of his last seven matches.
The 49ers were led by the attacking duo of freshman Taylor Crabb and Josh Riley, who finished with 14 and 12 kills, respectively. Crabb also scooped up eight digs and recorded three blocks for a strong all around match. Long Beach finishes their season with a 15-14 record
In the Championship Match the Gauchos will play tournament host USC. The Trojans defeated the UC Irvine Anteaters 3-1 in the night match following UCSB's victory. The winner of Saturday's match will receive an automatic berth into the four-team NCAA tournament. The loser will remain a candidate for an at-large bid, but there are no guarantees with teams like BYU and Stanford already out of the tournament. The game will be played at 7 p.m. at USC's Galen Center.
A donation to the Gaucho Fund - regardless of the sport it supports - will be part of the One Donation is Gold system. This allows donors to purchase priority/premium seating and parking at UCSB games across several sports in addition to other benefits.
GKids is the official kids club of UCSB Athletics. Members receive a free GKids t-shirt, free admittance to tons of Gaucho games, opportunities to be ball boys and girls at games, a special birthday greeting from Ole (the GKids mascot) and much, much more! For more information on GKids, or to become a member, please click here.
Gauchos Edge Long Beach State in Semis, Headed to MPSF Finals
August 16, 2011 Menzel, Team USA Improve to 3-1 at World University Games
August 12, 2011 Menzel, Davis Represent USA in International Play
May 7, 2011 UCSB Unable to Capture NCAA Championship
May 5, 2011 Davis Leads Gauchos Over USC, Into NCAA Finals
May 3, 2011 Menzel Named AVCA Player of the Week
May 2, 2011 No. 3 Gauchos Head to NCAA Final Four
April 30, 2011 Gauchos Topple No. 1 USC, Capture MPSF Championship
April 29, 2011 Menzel, McGuire Named to AVCA All-American Team
April 29, 2011 No. 5 UCSB Reaches MPSF Championship Match, Take on USC
April 27, 2011 No. 5 UCSB Heads to Conference Final Four, Take on LBSU
April 22, 2011 No. 7 UCSB Heads to No. 2 BYU to Kick Off MPSF Tournament
April 21, 2011 Four Gauchos Earn All-MPSF Honors
April 16, 2011 UCSB Ends Regular Season With Loss Against No. 1 USC
April 14, 2011 Gauchos Upset by Pepperdine
April 8, 2011 Gauchos Stun No. 3 Stanford on Senior Night
April 7, 2011 No. 15 Pacific Upsets No. 6 Gauchos, 3-2
March 31, 2011 Gauchos Clinch Playoff Spot With Win Over Tritons
March 31, 2011 No. 8 UCSB Tries to Clinch a Playoff Spot Against UCI, UCSD
March 13, 2011 Gauchos Roll Over Lewis to Finish Up Active Ankle Tournament
March 11, 2011 UCSB Drops First Game of Long Beach Tournament to Penn State
March 4, 2011 Gauchos, Menzel Dominate CSUN
March 2, 2011 Gauchos Fall to Long Beach State
March 2, 2011 Men's Volleyball vs. LBSU Moved to Rec Cen
March 2, 2011 No. 4 Gauchos Return Home to Host Long Beach State, CSUN
February 27, 2011 UCSB Falls in Heartbreaker to Stanford
February 25, 2011 Gauchos Drop Pacific in Four
February 24, 2011 Gauchos Rise to Third in Rankings, Head North
February 18, 2011 UCSB Earns Split in BYU Series
February 17, 2011 Gauchos Fall to BYU in Four
February 16, 2011 Men's Volleyball Moves to T-Dome For This Weeks Matches
February 16, 2011 Gauchos Set for No. 2 BYU
February 11, 2011 Gauchos Top Bruins
February 9, 2011 Gauchos Top Bruins Behind Menzel's 17 Kills
February 8, 2011 Gauchos Prepare for Bruins
February 5, 2011 Gauchos Earn Split in Hawai'i Series
February 4, 2011 Gauchos Fall to Hawai'i
February 1, 2011 Gauchos Cross the Pacific, Battle Hawai'i
January 28, 2011 Gauchos Roll Over Waves, 3-0
January 28, 2011 Gauchos Look to Break Cold Streak Against Waves
January 26, 2011 No. 1 USC Pulls Away From No. 6 UCSB
January 25, 2011 No. 6 Gauchos Battle Top-Ranked USC on Wednesday at Robertson Gym
January 21, 2011 No. 5 Gauchos Blast Cal State Northridge, 3-0
January 19, 2011 Gauchos Continue Road Swing
January 18, 2011 Volleyball Drops Match At Long Beach State
January 15, 2011 UCSB Falls to UC Irvine in Straight Sets
January 14, 2011 Gauchos Sweep Tritons
January 13, 2011 Gauchos Kick Off 2011 Season
January 8, 2011 Gauchos Drop Final of Gaucho Collegiate Invitational
January 7, 2011 Gauchos Sweep Day One, Advance to Finals
January 5, 2011 UCSB Set to Host Gaucho Collegiate Invitational
January 4, 2011 Gauchos Win Tune-Up Match
January 3, 2011 Gauchos Ready to Roll
November 30, 2010 Gauchos Roll in Final Fall Tournament
August 20, 2010 U.S. Juniors Will Play for NORCECA Gold Saturday
August 18, 2010 U.S. Juniors Win Pool After Sweeping Mexico
August 17, 2010 U.S. Junior National Team Goes to 2-0 After Sweeping Martinique