No. 3 UCSB Returns Home to Host No. 13 USC and No. 4 Pepperdine

Jan. 30, 2007

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Wednesday, January 31, 7 p.m.
#3 UCSB vs. #13 USC
Robertson Gymnasium
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Saturday, February 3, 7 p.m.
#3 UCSB vs. #4 Pepperdine
Robertson Gymnasium
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Last Meeting: 1/5/07 at UCSB
Result: UCSB 3, USC 0 (30-24, 30-26, 30-19)
2006 Series: UCSB led 2-0
2007 Series: UCSB leads 1-0
All-Time Series Record: UCSB leads 51-43
Last USC Win: 1/8/05 at UCSB
Result: USC 3, UCSB 0 (30-27, 30-26, 30-24)
Current Streak: UCSB, five wins

Last Meeting: 4/8/06 at Pepperdine
Result: Pepperdine 3, UCSB 0 (30-28, 30-22, 30-24)
2006 Series: Tied 1-1
2007 Series: 0-0
All-Time Series Record: Pepperdine leads 51-32
Last UCSB Win: 2/15/06 at UCSB
Result: UCSB 3, Pepperdine 2 (26-30, 30-27, 37-35, 20-30, 15-13)
Current Streak: Pepperdine, one win

UCSB continued its offensive dominance Saturday and picked up a 3-0 MPSF victory over unranked UC San Diego at RIMAC Arena. The Gauchos hit .448, their second-highest attack percentage of the season. Scores of the match, which lasted one hour and twenty minutes, were 30-17, 30-25, and 30-19. The Tritons could not stop the swing of Evan Patak, who posted a match-high 18 kills. Patak hit at an impressive .560 clip with just four errors in 25 attacks. He also added a team-high five digs, four service aces, and three blocks. Theo Brunner had 10 kills, hit .529, and recorded five blocks, while middle David Kennedy hit .538 with seven kills and no errors in 13 attempts. For the second-straight night, the Gauchos dropped in 10 service aces. Friday, in a 3-0 win at No. 8 Long Beach State, UCSB hit .430 and has now attacked at .400 or better in seven of nine matches. The Tritons hit just .189 for the match. Jason Spangler led UCSD with 12 kills on .357 hitting, adding five blocks. Andy Northness came off the bench with seven kills on .636 hitting. Brooks Dierdorff had 31 assists and six digs. UCSB came out with an impressive .548 hitting clip in the first game. The Gauchos led 10-8 and then went on a 10-4 run to up the lead to 20-12. In game two, UCSB took the lead quickly and stretched its advantage to 18-8. The Tritons pulled back within six after Spangler put down a kill and followed that with a block. UCSD would come as close as four points (29-25), but UCSB would prevail, winning 30-25. The Gauchos used a string of small runs in game three to open up a five-point lead at 20-15. A UCSB kill, followed by back-to-back UCSD errors gave the Gauchos a 10-point lead that the Tritons would never recover from. UCSB is 31-1 all-time vs. UCSD with the lone loss coming back in 2004.

A torrid .430 attack percentage led UCSB to a 3-0 sweep over No. 8 Long Beach State Friday in MPSF action at Walter Pyramid. The Gaucho victory snapped a three-match losing streak against the 49ers. Score of the match were 31-29, 30-16, and 30-25. The Gauchos totaled 49 kills and 12 errors in 86 attacks to finish with the .430 hitting percentage. UCSB hit .344 in the opening game, then .542 in the second and .433 in the final game. Not only did the Gauchos get it done with potent swings, they were also solid from the service line with 10 aces and at the net, finishing with a 9-3 edge in blocks. Evan Patak recorded his eighth-consecutive match with double-figure kills as he had a match-high 17 while hitting .448. Six of UCSB's 10 aces came from Patak, who also had four blocks and three digs. David Kennedy hit .667 with 11 kills and one error in 15 attacks. Bryan Berman amassed a match-high seven digs, Theo Brunner finished with five blocks, and setter Bart Kowalski had 42 assists. Long Beach State, which hit a respectable .304, got 12 kills and four digs from Paul Lotman, while Dustin Watten had six digs. The 49ers took a 15-14 lead on a Lotman kill in game one. Following a timeout, the Gauchos went on a 5-2 run to give them a 19-17 lead. After playing from behind for the latter part of the frame, Long Beach State fought off two game points and tied it at 29-29 with a block. However, a Patak kill and Brunner block closed out the game for UCSB. The Gauchos dropped in seven of their service aces in game two and jumped out to a 13-3 lead. The 49ers would get back within seven points, but the UCSB offense was too much to overcome. Game three was all UCSB as well. It was UCSB's first win over LBSU since February of 2005.

The No. 13 Trojans enter this week with a 3-5 overall record and a 2-3 MPSF mark, good for seventh place in the conference. They are coming off an impressive upset sweep of UCLA in Westwood on Jan. 27. It was USC's first win at Pauley Pavilion since 2000 and the school's first sweep of the Bruins since 1991. The Trojans hit .533 and posted 15.5 blocks. In a tough week of competition, USC fell in four games at top-ranked UC Irvine on Jan. 24. Juan Figueroa and C.J. Schellenberg provide USC's offensive firepower with 135 and 137 kills, respectively. Figueroa also has a team-high 71 digs and 155.5 points. The Trojans are out-blocking opponents 78.0-68.5 and Andrew Vernon leads five players that have 20 or more blocks with 27. Starting setter Jimmy Killian is averaging 13.23 assists per game. USC is hitting just .296 on the year, compared its opponent's attack percentage of .334.

Pepperdine, which also moved up one spot to No. 4 in this week's AVCA poll, is 5-1 overall and fourth in the MPSF with a 4-1 record. The Waves will play at No. 6 Cal State Northridge Wednesday before traveling to Santa Barbara. Pepperdine stunned top-ranked UC Irvine Saturday by sweeping the Anteaters and handing them their first loss of the season. The Waves out-blocked Irvine 16-6 as Tom Hulse had a career-high 14 blocks. Pepperdine started its week with a 3-2 win at UCLA. Pepperdine's lone loss of the season was a 3-2 setback at Long Beach State on Jan. 19. Paul Carroll is averaging 6.50 kills per game and has recorded a team-best 18 service aces. Hulse has totaled a team-high 41 blocks, while Jon Grobe leads in the digs department with 44. Hulse was named the MPSF Player of the Week on Jan. 30.

For the second straight week, the Gauchos have moved up one spot in the CSTV/AVCA Coaches Poll. UCSB is third behind BYU and UC Irvine, which lost its top ranking for the first time this season. The last time the Gauchos were ranked third was in the Jan. 16, 2001 poll. UCSB has been ranked as high as second on two occasions in the AVCA poll, most recently on Jan. 23, 2001.

Evan Patak has recorded 30 or more kills three times this season. The opposite hitter had a season-high 40 at Pacific (1/12), 36 at top-ranked UC Irvine (1/20), and 31 vs. UCLA (1/17). Only two other players in the nation have had 30 or more kills in a single match - Pepperdine's Paul Carroll had 37 in five games against UCLA (1/24), while Ball State's Nick Meyer totaled 30 in a four-gamer against George Mason (1/19). All three of Patak's performances have come in five-game matches.

Nationally, Evan Patak is first in total kills (207) and total aces (32), second in aces per game (.941), third in points per game (7.43), and fourth in kills per game (6.09). Bart Kowalski is tied for fourth in assists per game (13.50), while Theo Brunner is 11th in hitting percentage (.503) and David Kennedy is just behind in 12th (.500). Kennedy is 20th in blocks per game (1.12). As a team, UCSB is ranked second behind Ohio State in attack percentage (.390).

In Mountain Pacific Sports Federation matches only, Evan Patak leads all league players in kills (157), kills per game (6.54), aces (23), aces per game (0.96), points (190.5) and points per game (7.94). David Kennedy is third in hitting percentage (.538) and Theo Brunner is sixth (.484). Bart Kowalski checks in first in total assists (309) and fifth in assists per game (13.43). As a team, the Gauchos lead in attack percentage (.393) and total kills (392), are second in aces per game (1.75), fifth in kills per game (16.33) and assists per game (15.46), sixth in digs per game (9.42), and seventh in blocks per game (2.67).

In his 29th season as the head coach of the UCSB men's volleyball program, Ken Preston needs just seven more wins for 500 in his career. Currently, Preston holds an overall record of 493-353 (.583) since taking over the reigns in 1979. Preston has 18 winning seasons under his belt, including eight campaigns with 20 or more victories.

Three Gauchos have recorded double-doubles this season: Evan Patak (1): 40 kills, 13 digs at Pacific (1/12) Aaron Richman (1): 14 kills, 10 digs vs. Cal State Northridge (1/6) Armen Zakarian (1): 11 kills, 10 digs vs. Cal State Northridge (1/6)

Evan Patak has recorded 14 or more kills in all nine matches...He has hit better than .400 in five contests, including the last three...Patak has multiple service aces in all but one match, including six on three occasions...Patak has not tallied less than 20 points in any match...Theo Brunner has hit over .500 five times, including his last three matches...Brunner has at least three blocks in all nine matches played...David Kennedy has hit over .500 six times...UCSB has hit .400 or better seven times...Opponents are hitting .314 compared to UCSB's .390 clip...Evan Patak's ace total of 32 is 51% of UCSB's total (63) and 23 more than the next Gaucho on the list...UCSB is out-blocking opponents 2.62-1.97 per game...Evan Patak has accounted for 252.5 of UCSB's 697.0 points, 36%...After hitting a season-low .267 against UCLA (1/17), the Gauchos have swung at a .421 clip in the three matches since...UCSB recorded 10 aces in each of its last two matches...The last time UCSB went 8-2 in its first 10 matches was in 1988...The Gauchos have gone 7-3 eight times, most recently in 2002.

UCSB received National Letters of Intent from four high school seniors during the NCAA's early signing period in November. Ben Douglas (Mountain View, Calif.), Jeff Menzel (Santa Barbara, Calif.), Blaine Nielsen (Corona del Mar, Calif.), and Jake Scalise (San Marcos, Calif.) 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.