Gauchos Kick Off 2011 Season

Jan. 13, 2011

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• The Schedule
Friday, January 14, 2011 at 7 p.m. No. 10 UC Santa Barbara (0-0, 2-1) at UC San Diego (1-0, 2-2) Series record vs. the Tritons - 25-5 Streak - Won 2 2010 Series - UCSB 2-1 Last time out vs. the Tritons - W, 3-2

Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 7 p.m. No. 10 UC Santa Barbara (0-0, 2-1) at No. 2 UC Irvine (0-1, 2-3)* at Bren Cener, Irvine, CA Series record vs. the Anteaters- 45-18 Streak- Won 2 2010 Series- UCSB 2-0 Last time out vs. the Anteaters- W, 3-1 *Volleyball Magazine has the Gauchos ranked No. 5, and UC Irvine ranked No. 6

• Can't Make it to the Court?
UCSB men's volleyball matches can be followed live online for no charge with Gametracker. Log on to, go to the men's volleyball schedule, and click on the Gametracker link for the match you're interested in. You can follow each point and see player statistics and bios.

• Championship Pedigree
The Gauchos have already shown improvement over their 2010 season. as UCSB placed second in the Gaucho Collegiate Invitational. The host Gauchos finished in last place in 2010, but advanced to the Championship match against Brigham Young University this year., representing the biggest leap of any team in the tournament. Senior libero Andy McGuire and senior middle blocker Scott Slaughter were named to the All-Tournament Team, and senior outside hitter Cullen Irons had an outstanding Day One, compiling 30 kills in the Gauchos' first two matches.

• History Repeating
Senior outside hitter Jeff Menzel is already off to a strong start in his 2011 campaign. He leads the Gauchos in both kills (40) and attacks (80), and is second on the team in both kills per set (3.62) and digs (10). Jeff is looking to repeat as the nation's leading killer, as he recorded 588 kills in the 2010 season. A strong server, Jeff has also recorded three service aces thus far in the young season.

•Older and Wiser
The Gauchos will be fielding an experienced lineup in the 2011 season, as 6 of the 7 starters from the Gaucho Collegiate Invitational were seniors (Sophomore middle block Dylan Davis being the only exception). Those same six are in the projected starting lineup for the beginning of conference play, giving UCSB one of the oldest and most battle-tested starting lineups in the nation.

• Pumping Irons
Senior opposite Cullen Irons looks to be one of the most improved Gauchos of the offseason. Cullen recorded an impressive 30 kills in Day One of the Gaucho Collegiate Invitational,. He finished with a total of 38 kills, a figure that would assuredly be higher if Head Coach Rick McLaughlin had not pulled most of the starters midway through the Championship Match. Irons leads the team in kills per set (3.80) and service aces (6), and his 38 kills are topped only by Menzel.

• Dishing it Out
Senior setter Vince Devany is up to his old habits, accounting for the vast majority of his team's assists. Devany currently has 107 of the Gauchos 127 assists, good for 10.70 assists per set. Vince racked up 1551 assists in the 2010 season, which ranked second in the nation.

•Brotherly Love
One of the Gauchos top 2011 recruits is freshman ourside hitter Weston Nielsen, younger brother of the Gaucho's only junior classmen-outside hitter Blaine Nielsen. The two figure to share time on the floor together.. The elder Nielsen was one the Gauchos strongest subs last year., racking up 107 kills and 11 service aces despite limited playing time.

• Home Improvement
If the Gauchos want to climb the MPSF standings this year, they are going to have to improve on their measly 5-10 record at Rob Gym in 2010. The home confines were anything but friendly to the Gauchos, as they were able to compile a 8-6 record away from Santa Barbara.

• Threading the Needle
Scott Slaughter was the Gauchos most accurate attacker in 2010, recording a .455 hitting percentage for the year. Scott is continuing that trend this year, leading the team with a percentage of .531. Scott has also been an all-around threat for UCSB, ranking third in kills (21) and second in blocks (8).

• Tickets For All Matches This Season Are Available
Tickets for all matches this season are available by calling 805.893.UCSB, visiting the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, or buy online and print at home. The Intercollegiate Athletics Ticket Office now has two parking spaces adjacent to the building, making it easier than ever for fans to purchase tickets. The two parking spots, designated specifically for the Ticket Office, are available during weekday hours, which are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.