No. 9 UCSB Welcomes No. 10 Pepperdine, No. 2 USC After Undefeated Roadtrip

Feb. 2, 2010

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

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• The Schedule
Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 7 p.m.
No. 9 UC Santa Barbara (4-5, 4-2) vs. No. 10 Pepperdine (2-3, 2-4)
at Rob Gym (2,000)
Series record vs. the Waves - 32-58
Streak - Lost 8
2009 Series - Pepperdine won 2-0
Last time out vs. the Waves - L, 3-0 (4/04/09)

Friday, January 29, 2010 at 7 p.m.
No. 9 UC Santa Barbara (4-5, 4-2) vs. No. 2 USC (6-2, 4-1)
at the Thunderdome (5,000)
Series record vs. the Trojans - 54-46
Streak - Lost 2
2009 Series - USC won 2-0
Last time out vs. the Trojans - L, 3-2 (4/1/09)

• Tickets For All Matches This Season Are Available
This season, fans have several options to purchase men's volleyball tickets. Online sales are through Ticket Return. Just go to UCSBgauchos.com, roll over "Tickets", and click on "Buy Now Print From Home." Then click on the Men's Volleyball section. Additionally, tickets are available by calling the Ticket Office at 805.893.UCSB or by visiting the Ticket Office, located in the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus. Of course, you can also buy tickets at the Rob Gym entrance beginning one hour prior to the start of the match. Individual match ticket prices are $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $3 for youths. UCSB students are free.

• 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 UCSBgauchos.com, 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.

• New Real Estate
The Friday, January 5 contest between No. 9 UCSB and No. 2 USC has been moved to the Thunderdome due to scheduled maintenance and facility upgrades in Rob Gym. Match-time remains set for 7 p.m.

• Swingin' a New Set of Irons
Junior outside hitter Cullen Irons was named the MPSF Molten Player of the Week on Monday, just days after leading No. 10 UCSB's upset of No. 2 Stanford. Irons hit a season-high .375 (22-7-40) as the Gauchos took down the Cardinal in four sets. He then broke that mark with a .429 effort (15-3-28) at Pacific, adding four blocks and an ace. The Hanford, Calif. native averaged 5.29 kills and hit .397 for the week. He shared MPSF honors with Pepperdine freshman opposite Maurice Torres. It marks the first time a Gaucho has won the award since Theo Brunner took home the hardware on February 11, 2008.

• It's a Three-for-All
After a pair of four-set upsets over Stanford and No. 4 UC Irvine and a sweep of Pacific, the Gauchos have now won three matches in a row for the first time since February 2008. Two years ago, the Gauchos defeated Pacific (2/9/08) on the road, 3-1, before sweeping UCSD (2/15/08) and closing out UCLA (2/20/08), 3-1, at home. It was during this timespan that Brunner took home MPSF honors. It only seems fitting that Irons takes home MPSF Player of the Week during the Gauchos current three-match win streak.

• Pass the Cole-Slaugh
Junior middle blocker Scott Slaughter seems to be recovering nicely after an early season injury and has started all of the Gauchos' last three victories. Against Pacific on January 29, Slaughter connected on 10 of his 12 swing attempts with no errors, setting a career-high .833 hitting percentage. He also added six blocks, two digs and 14.0 total points in the sweep. In the Gauchos' win over Stanford, Slaughter hit .348 (12-4-23). Slaughter currently leads the Gauchos, swinging at an impressive .476 (49-10-82) rate over 18 sets played. He is second on the team with a 1.00 block per set average.

• Natural Born Killa'
Junior outside hitter Jeff Menzel continues to shoulder much of the workload for UCSB, averaging 11.83 attack attempts per set. He leads the MPSF with 5.28 kills per set and 5.94 points per set. It marks the second straight week he has led the conference in those two categories. He also leads UCSB and the MPSF in total kills (211) and total points (237.5) while managing a team-high six solo blocks.

• Road Warriors
The Gauchos have won three of their four contests on the road this year. On January 22, UCSB upset defending national champions UC Irvine at the Bren Center, 32-30, 30-32, 30-28, and 30-24. Six days later, UCSB took down Stanford in four, 30-28, 31-29, 28-30, and 31-29. The next day UCSB swept Pacific, 30-24, 30-16, and 30-21. The Gauchos lone road loss was at the hands of UCLA, where UCSB let a 2-1 set lead disappear before losing, 30-19, 23-30, 24-30, 30-25, and 15-11 at Pauley Pavilion.

• Movin' Up in the Ranks
Picked to finish in 10th place in the MPSF Coaches' Poll, the Gauchos are now tied for third place with Hawai'i and BYU with a 4-2 conference record. Currently ranked ninth, the Guachos have improved their national ranking every week of the 2010 season. UCSB opened the season ranked 14th nationally, but advanced to No. 11 on January 18 after a win over UC San Diego. As a result of their upset over then-No. 4 UC Irvine, UCSB moved up to No. 10 on January 25. On the heels of their third consecutive road win, the Gauchos were rewarded with their first top-10 ranking of the season and highest rank since January 12, 2009.

• Wave Them Through
The No. 10 Waves came from behind to upset top-ranked USC in five sets last Friday in Malibu, a match that featured 61 ties. Four starters hit at least .400 with double-digit kills. Kasey Crider dished a 2010 MPSF and career-high 76 assists in leading Pepperdine to .391 hitting. Freshman Maurice Torres racked-up a career-high 28 kills while adding six blocks and was named MPSF Player of the Week with Cullen Irons. For USC, Murphy Troy tallied 21 kills and Hunter Current hit .737 (15-1-19) as the Trojans suffered only their second loss this season and first in conference play. USC had owned the No. 1 ranking four successive weeks before being overtaken by Cal State Northridge this week.

• BE Great
In 2009, UCSB Athletics unveiled the BE Great initiative. BE Great is dedicated to maximizing leadership ability, strong on-campus interaction, and general welfare for all 450 student-athletes and Intercollegiate Athletics staff at UC Santa Barbara. BE Great also focuses on personal and career development, diversity and social awareness, and ensuring academic success.

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