No. 6 UCSB to Open MPSF Season in Nor Cal at No. 14 Pacific and Stanford

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Jan. 11, 2007

Santa Barbara, Calif. - The Gauchos (2-1), after finishing third at their own 43rd Annual Elephant Bar Invitational last Saturday, open up their 2007 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation season with matches at No. 14 Pacific (1-2) on Jan. 12 (7 p.m.) and at unranked Stanford (0-3) on Jan. 13 (5 p.m.). Both opponents were in Santa Barbara for the E-Bar tourney as the Tigers went 1-2 and finished sixth, while the Cardinal were 0-3 and placed eighth. It will be the MPSF season-opener for UCSB and Pacific, while Stanford opens at home against No. 8 Cal State Northridge Friday at 7 p.m.

Against Pacific:
Last Meeting: 3/11/06 at Pacific
Result: Pacific 3, UCSB 0 (30-27, 30-22, 30-28)
2006 Series: Tied 1-1
All-Time Series Record: UCSB leads 11-10
Last UCSB Win: 1/27/06 at UCSB
Result: UCSB 3, Pacific 0 (30-25, 30-27, 30-27)
Current Streak: Pacific, one match

Against Stanford:
Last Meeting: 3/10/06 at Stanford
Result: UCSB 3, Stanford 0 (30-25, 30-21, 30-26)
2006 Series: UCSB 2-0
All-Time Series Record: UCSB leads 39-22
Last Stanford Win: 1/30/04 at Stanford
Result: Stanford 3, UCSB 2 (28-30, 30-25, 30-28, 19-30, 16-14)
Current Streak: UCSB, five matches

The Pacific Tigers, ranked 14th in the Jan. 8 CSTV/AVCA poll (the same as their preseason poll ranking), enter Friday's match with a 1-2 record. At UCSB's Elephant Bar Invitational last Friday and Saturday, Pacific lost its opening round match, 3-1, against UCLA. In the consolation bracket, the Tigers defeated USC, 3-1, and lost to Long Beach State, 3-0, in the fifth/sixth place match. Against the 49ers, two players reached double figures in kills as Matt Cornell put down 15 and Andreas Baboulidis added 11. Pekka Seppanen posted a match-high eight digs, while Cornell had four blocks in the losing effort. Pacific was picked to finish 10th in the 2007 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Preseason Coaches Poll. The Tigers ended their 2006 campaign with a 8-20 record and placed 10th in the MPSF with a 6-16 mark.

Unranked Stanford enters the first week of MPSF play with a 0-3 record after going winless at the UCSB/Elephant Bar Invitational. The Cardinal lost in the opening round, 3-0, against UC Irvine. Long Beach State then defeated Stanford, 3-2, before USC took a 3-2 victory in the seventh/eighth place match. Against USC, three players had double-digit kills as both Matt Ceran and Evan Romero had 21 and Brandon Williams totaled 13. Ceran added 10 digs, while setter Kawika Shoji amassed 65 assists and four aces in the five-gamer. Garrett Werner hit .692 with nine kills and no errors in 13 attempts. Chosen to finish 11th in the 2007 MPSF Preseason Coaches Poll, Stanford was 4-24 overall last season and 11th in the MPSF at 2-20. In league play, the Cardinal posted wins against Pacific and UC San Diego, but lost its final 15 matches of the year. The team returns a pair of starters from last year's squad in Ceran and libero Brian Lindberg, the lone senior on this year's roster.

UC Irvine left no doubt as to why it is ranked first in the nation as the Anteaters blanked UCLA 3-0 last Saturday to win the title game of the 43rd Annual UCSB/Elephant Bar Collegiate Invitational. UC Santa Barbara defeated Cal State Northridge 3-1 to finish in third place, Long Beach State downed Pacific 3-0 for fifth, and USC outlasted Stanford to win 3-2 for seventh place.

Scores of the championship match were 30-22, 30-26, and 30-23. Irvine steamrolled through the entire two-day tourney and won all three of its matches in three games. All-American setter Brian Thornton was named the most valuable player as he orchestrated the powerful offense and collected 45 assists and two blocks in the win over the Bruins. Jayson Jablonsky, the 2006 AVCA National Player of the Year, and all-American Matt Webber were named to the all-tournament team. Jablonsky recorded 11 kills and added eight digs, while Webber posted a match-high 12 kills and picked up four digs and three blocks in the win against UCLA.

UCLA, which defeated UCSB 3-0 Friday, got 11 kills from Steve Klosterman and 10 out of Paul George, each of whom were named to the all-tourney team. The reigning national champions, UCLA won the tournament back-to-back in 2004 and 2005, but hit just .194 against the Anteaters. The Bruins were stifled at times by a solid block from Irvine, five of those coming from David Smith.

UC Irvine last won the tournament back in 2003 (by defeating UCLA 3-2) and UCLA has appeared in the title match in each of the past five years. Long Beach State won the 2006 affair by topping UCLA 3-1.

UCSB took third place by defeating the Matadors 30-25, 24-30, 30-17, and 30-22. Four Gauchos hit double figures in kills as Evan Patak and Aaron Richman each had 14, Theo Brunner totaled 12 and Armen Zakarian had 11. UCSB hit .415 in the match, much of that attributed to Brunner as he had no errors in 15 swings for a .800 attack percentage. Patak added six service aces, two blocks, and turned in a match-high 21 points before being selected to the all-tournament team. Richman had four aces as the Gauchos dropped in a total of 13 on the night. Zakarian and Richman both amassed 10 digs apiece and Brunner had four blocks. Setter Max Klineman had 52 assists.

For Cal State Northridge, Theo Edwards led the team offensively with a match-high 20 kills. James Lischer had 13 kills, hit .429, tallied four blocks, and was named to the all-tournament team. After hitting .545 as a team to win the second game, the Matadors dropped to .074 in game three.

Final Tournament Standings and Records
1. UC Irvine, 3-0; 2. UCLA, 2-1; 3. UC Santa Barbara, 2-1; 4. Cal State Northridge, 1-2; 5. Long Beach State, 2-1; 6. Pacific, 1-2; 7. USC, 1-2; 8. Stanford, 0-3

All-Tournament Team
Most Valuable Player: Brian Thornton, UC Irvine
Paul George, UCLA
Jayson Jablonsky, UC Irvine
Steve Klosterman, UCLA
James Lischer, Cal State Northridge
Evan Patak, UC Santa Barbara
Matt Webber, UC Irvine

Bryan Berman (OH•6-2•175•SR): All-MPSF Honorable Mention...Played in all 29 matches and started 25...Saw action in 97 of 103 games...Led the Gauchos with 153 digs...Totaled 264 kills, tied for second on the team...Averaged 2.72 kills per game, third on the roster...Hit .320 on the year...Shattered his previous career-high (14) with 21 kills vs. UC Irvine (2/11)...Also set a new career-best with 14 digs vs. UC Irvine (1/6)...The 14-digs were the most by any Gaucho all year...His .778 hitting percentage (7-0-9) vs. UC San Diego (3/3) was a career-high...Amassed 23.5 points vs. Cal Baptist (2/24), breaking his previous career-high of 17.5 points...Tied a career-high with four aces at UCLA (2/8)...Also tied a career-high with five blocks at UCLA (4/19)...Posted 20 kills vs. Cal Baptist (2/24)...Put down double-digit kills in 13 matches...Recorded three double-doubles...Had multiple aces in six matches...Hit over .400 in 11 matches.

Theo Brunner (MB•6-7•200•JR): All-MPSF Honorable Mention...Was the only Gaucho to play in all 103 of the squad's games...Tied for 13th in the nation with a .427 hitting percentage...Sixth among MPSF players with a .433 attack percentage in league matches...Started 28 of 29 matches...His 264 kills tied him with Bryan Berman for second-most on the team...Led the Gauchos with 90 total blocks...Was second on the roster with 335 points...Posted 10 or more kills in 13 matches...Recorded a season-high 16 kills vs. USC (4/5)...Set a new career-high with three aces against Hawai'i (1/13)...Tied his career-high with eight blocks on two occasions, the first at Cal State Northridge (3/31) and the second in the very next match vs. USC (4/5)...Had multiple blocks in 21 matches and four or more in 10 contests...Hit over .500 11 times...Went 8-0-10 for an .800 clip at UC San Diego (2/2) and again vs. Lewis (3/7)...His season-high in points was 22 against USC (4/5).

Michael Fisher (OH•6-5•215•JR): Played in 28 matches and started 17...Established a new career-high with 13 kills vs. UC Irvine (1/6)...Also set a new career-best with eight digs in that match...Had 11 kills against USC (4/5)...Totaled 10 kills three times; vs. Hawai'i (1/13), at BYU (1/21), and vs. Stanford (1/28)...Posted multiple blocks in 12 matches, including a career-high six vs. Stanford (1/28)...Equaled his career-high attack percentage by hitting .667 (10-0-15) at BYU (1/21)...Contributed 10 or more in seven matches, including a career-best 14 vs. Stanford (1/28)...Upped his kill total of 20 in 2005 to 146 in 2006...Also made strides at the net, increasing his block total from five to 47.

David KENNEDY (MB•6-6•230•SR): Saw action in 26 matches and started in 24...Second on the team with 64 blocks...An Academic All-MPSF selection with a 3.37 GPA as a Law & Society major...Totaled 139 kills in 82 games, good for a 1.7 kills per game average...Hit .332 on the year...Established a career-high with 15 kills vs. USC (4/5)...Also recorded a career-best 18 points in that match...Set a career-high with seven blocks at Cal State Northridge (3/31)...Hit .818 (9-0-11) against Cal Baptist (2/24)...Notched 13 kills, two blocks, and 14.5 points vs. Long Beach State (3/1)...Had 12 kills, three blocks, and 14 points at UC Irvine (4/15)...Picked up multiple blocks in 19 matches...Amassed four or more blocks in eight matches...A member of the UCSB men's basketball team for the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons...Was a redshirt for the 2003 volleyball season and was not a member of the team for the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

Max Klineman (S•6-3•170•SO): Took over the starting setter position as a true freshman when Bart Kowalski decided to take a redshirt...Played in all 29 matches and started 27 of them...Amassed 1,279 assists in 95 games, putting him fourth in the country with a 13.46 assists per game average...Was second behind UC Irvine All-American Brian Thornton in assists per game in MPSF matches at 13.78...As a team, UCSB led the MPSF in league matches with 15.49 assists per game...Klineman's 1,279 helpers is ninth on UCSB's single-season list...Had 40 or more assists in 17 matches...Tallied 50 or more helpers in 10 matches and 60 or more seven times...Posted a career-high 69 assists while adding five blocks against USC (4/5)...Had three kills three times...Totaled three kills with no errors in four swings (.750), had 58 assists, three digs, and four blocks vs. Cal State Northridge (3/15)...Had multiple blocks in 13 matches...Recorded back-to-back 67-assist performances against UC Irvine (2/11) and Pepperdine (2/15)...Also added a career-high eight digs in the match against the Anteaters.

Evan Patak (OPP•6-8•255•SR): Played in 20 matches and started 19 (72 games) before becoming ineligible...Last match he played was on March 31 at Cal State Northridge...Despite missing nine matches, the season ended with Patak as the national leader in kills per game at 5.88 (423 kills), aces per game at .722 (52 aces), and points per game (7.10)...In MPSF matches only, Patak led in kills per game at 6.06 (327 kills, 54 games), aces per game at .741 (40 aces), and points per game (7.13)...Had double figures in kills in all but one match...Posted 20 or more kills in 12 contests...His season-high of 31 kills came in his final match of the year at Cal State Northridge (3/31)...The 31 kills was the most by any Gaucho all season...Aced opponents five or more times in five matches, including a season-high seven against Hawai'i (1/14)...Set a new hitting percentage career-high by going 19-2-26 for a .654 clip against UC San Diego (3/3)...His season-high in points was 36 at Cal State Northridge (3/31), which was the highest point total put up by any UCSB player in 2006...led the Gauchos in kills (423), kills per game (5.88), attempts (810), aces (52), aces per game (.72), total points (501.5), and points per game (6.97)...Patak is UCSB's all-time leader in career service aces with 145, which is 68 more than the second Gaucho on the list...Patak's 1,441 career kills ranks third all-time in UCSB history...His 2,799 total attack attempts is fourth all-time.

Aaron Richman (OH•6-4•200•SR): Played in 26 matches and started 21 (82 games)...Was third on the team with 234 kills...Second in kills per game with a 2.85 average...His 17 service aces were third on the Gaucho roster...Also third on the squad with 107 digs...One of four Gauchos that totaled over 100 digs for the season...Had a total of 44 blocks and was third on the team with nine solos...Finished the season with 277.5 points...Entering last season, had played in a total of 20 games over his freshman and sophomore years...Smashed his previous career-high of eight kills when he put away 21 balls against USC (4/5)...Dug a career-best 12 balls at UCLA in the MPSF Play-In match (4/19)...Posted a double-double in that contest by adding 17 kills...Set a new career-high with three service aces vs. UC Santa Cruz (2/4)...His six total blocks at Cal State Northridge (3/31) was also a new career-high...Broke his prior career-high points total of 10 on 12 occasions with his best effort a 24-point performance vs. USC (4/5)...Recorded 10 or more kills in 11 matches, including five of the final six contests he played in...Dropped in multiple service aces in five matches...Had five or more digs in 11 matches.

Armen Zakarian (OH•6-2•165•SR): In his first year at UCSB, played in 28 of 29 matches (83 games) and served as the Gauchos' primary libero...Was second on the team with 142 digs...Posted a .957 reception percentage with 24 errors in 562 attempts...Led UCSB in digs per game with a 1.71 average...Recorded a season-best 13 scoops against USC (4/5), which was the second-highest total for any Gaucho in 2006...Also had double-digit dig totals vs. UC Irvine (2/11) with 10 and against Cal Baptist (2/24) with 12...Played the 2004 and 2005 seasons at Santa Barbara City College, where he was twice named First Team All-Western States Conference.

UCSB received National Letters of Intent from four high school seniors during the NCAA's early signing period. Ben Douglas (Mountain View, Calif.), Jeff Menzel (Santa Barbara, Calif.), Blaine Nielsen (Corona del Mar, Calif.), and Jake Scalise (San Marcos, Calif.) have committed to play for the Gauchos in 2008. Douglas is a 6'6" outside hitter from Mountain View High School. A member of the Spartans' varsity team since he was a freshman, Douglas is in his fourth year with the Bay to Bay Volleyball Club. Menzel is a local standout from San Marcos High School. The 6'5" opposite/outside hitter is a two-time All-CIF honoree and a 2006 All-Channel League First Team member. A versatile athlete, Menzel is also a first team all-league basketball player and a wide receiver on the Royals' football team. Menzel's sister, Erica, played for the Gauchos' women's squad from 2000-03 and was a two-time All-Big West First Team pick as well as an all-region selection in 2002. Nielsen is a 6'4" outside hitter out of Corona del Mar High School. A 2006 All-Pacific Coast League selection, Nielsen captained the Sea Kings to a league title and a second place finish in CIF Division II. In 2005, Corona del Mar won the CIF crown. At the club level, Nielsen captained Balboa Bay to Junior Olympics bronze medals in 2005 and 2006. Scalise is a 6'2" outside hitter from Mission Hills High School of the Division II Valley League. An all-league first team and San Diego County all-section pick, Scalise was also tabbed Mission Hills' MVP. An excellent student, he is a two-time member of the league's all-academic team.