No. 3 UCSB Hosts No. 2 UC Irvine and Plays at No. 7 UCLA

No. 3 UCSB Hosts No. 2 UC Irvine and Plays at No. 7 UCLA

Feb. 20, 2007

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Wednesday, February 21, 7 p.m.
No. 3 UCSB vs. No. 2 UC Irvine
Robertson Gymnasium
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Friday, February 23, 7 p.m.
No. 3 UCSB at No. 7 UCLA
Pauley Pavilion
Los Angeles, Calif.

Last Meeting: 1/20/07 at UC Irvine
Result: UCI 3, UCSB 2 (25-30, 28-30, 30-22, 30-25, 15-10)
2007 Series: UCI leads 1-0
2006 Series: UCI led 2-1
All-Time Series Record: UCSB leads 43-12
Last UCSB Win: 1/6/06 at UCSB
Result: UCSB 3, UCI 2 (30-24, 30-27, 27-30, 28-30, 15-10)
Current Streak: UCI three wins

Last Meeting: 1/17/07 at UCLA
Result: UCSB 3, UCLA 2 (31-33, 27-30, 30-28, 30-27, 15-6)
2007 Series: Tied 1-1
2006 Series: UCLA led 4-0
All-Time Series Record: UCLA leads 110-27
Last UCLA Win: 1/5/07 at UCSB (Elephant Bar Invite)
Result: UCLA 3, UCSB 0 (30-22, 36-34, 30-26)
Current Streak: UCSB, one win

UCSB overcame large deficits in the first two games to earn a 3-0 sweep over Long Beach State Feb. 17 at Rob Gym. Scores went 30-19, 30-28, and 30-19. It was the fourth straight win for Santa Barbara, the second time it has accomplished that feat this season. The Gauchos baffled Long Beach at the net, collecting a season-high 14.0 total blocks, eight of those coming from David Kennedy. Evan Patak finished with a match co-high 13 kills and added four service aces, three of those coming in the opening game. Theo Brunner hit .714 with 11 kills, while Bryan Berman hit a career-high .727 with eight kills and no errors in 11 swings. Libero Ben Brockman amassed a match-high 13 digs and setter Bart Kowalski had 42 assists to go along with a career-best four blocks. Long Beach was led by Norm Hutton with 13 kills. Paul Lotman followed with 12 kills and Dustin Watten recorded five digs. Setter Michael Iandolo finished with 40 helpers. The Gauchos, who are hitting .373 on the season, swung at a .462 clip for the match and hit .607 in game three. The 49ers hit .220 overall. LBSU jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the opening game and led by as much as six points before UCSB tied the game at 11-11. The Gauchos then went on a 10-0 run to put the game away. In game two, the 49ers led by seven points and held a 28-22 advantage before UCSB pounded out eight-straight points to win. The third and final set was close early on, but Long Beach hit just .179 and Santa Barbara hit .607 to put away the match. It was the 498th career victory for UCSB head coach Ken Preston.

Backed by a match-high 18 kills from Evan Patak and a team hitting percentage of .465, UCSB handily defeated unranked UC San Diego, 3-0, Feb. 15 at Rob Gym. Scores of the match were 30-21, 30-19, and 30-27. Patak was not only dangerous on the attack, but also from the service line, dropping in seven of UCSB's 11 aces. The opposite hit .481 and added three digs and two blocks while amassing 26.0 points in the win. Aaron Richman totaled 11 kills, hit .444, and had four blocks. Theo Brunner also had four blocks and libero Ben Brockman recorded a match-high five digs. Bart Kowalski and Max Klineman split the setting duties and had 23 and 21 assists, respectively. UCSD hit .303 for the match. The Tritons improved as the night went on, hitting .241 in game one, .318 in the second frame, and .360 in the third. Will Ehrman led San Diego with 10 kills, but hit just .174 with six errors in 23 attempts. Jason Spangler put away nine kills with no errors in 12 swings to hit .750. Eric Leserman posted a team-high four digs and setter Brooks Dierdorff had 31 helpers.

UC Irvine, which moved up one spot to No. 2 in this week's AVCA poll, enters Wednesday's match with a 15-3 overall record. The Anteaters are third in the MPSF at 9-3. UCI has been ranked first or second in 19 of the last 20 polls since Feb. 20, 2006. It has won 36 of its last 41 matches dating back to Jan. 31, 2006 and its 15 wins this season is the third-most in program history. Irvine swept UC Santa Cruz, Stanford, and Pacific last week and its last loss was a 3-2 defeat at home vs. Pacific on Feb. 10. Middle blocker David Smith recently became the school's career block assist leader, while middle Aaron Harrell was named the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week as well as the Molten/MPSF Player of the Week Monday. It was the second national honor of the season for the Anteaters as Jayson Jablonsky won it Jan. 22.

No. 7 UCLA enters the week with an 8-7 overall record and is in seventh place in the MPSF at 6-6. The Bruins split a pair of matches last week, losing 3-0 at Pacific and defeating Stanford 3-1 in Stanford. The loss to Pacific was UCLA's first in 26 meetings. Prior to that road trip, UCLA had won four straight matches. The Bruins host No. 10 Cal State Northridge Wednesday prior to playing UCSB Friday. Four Bruins have collected over 100 kills this season, including Paul George (180), Steve Klosterman (176), Garrett Muagututia (169), and Jamie Diefenbach (125). UCLA is hitting .281 as a team, while opponents are swinging at a .294 clip against the Bruins. Defensively, Tony Ker has a team-high 102 digs. Diefenbach leads the squad with 67 blocks, followed by Klosterman (52) and George (42).

In his 29th season as the head coach of the UCSB men's volleyball program, Ken Preston needs just two more wins for 500 in his career. Currently, Preston holds an overall record of 498-355 (.584) since taking over the reigns in 1979. Preston has 18 winning seasons under his belt, including eight campaigns with 20 or more victories. Preston would be UCSB's second active coach to eclipse the 500-win plateau at the school. Hall of Famer Kathy Gregory, who just completed her 32nd year as head coach of the women's volleyball program, picked up her 500th career win in 1995. Women's basketball coach Mark French has 500+ career wins, but not all have come at UCSB.

UCSB sits in third alone this week as UC Irvine, which was tied for third with UCSB last week, moved up one spot to second. The Gauchos have been ranked second, their highest-ever, on two occasions in the AVCA poll, most recently on Jan. 23, 2001.

Gauchos among the national statistics leaders (all matches):
Ben Brockman: 20th in digs per game (2.23)
Theo Brunner: 5th in hitting (.528)
David Kennedy: 13th in hitting (.453)
Bart Kowalski: 2nd in assists per game (13.65)
Evan Patak: 1st in aces per game (1.127); 2nd in points per game (7.44); 4th in kills per game (5.89)
UCSB: 2nd in hitting (.373)

Gauchos among the MPSF statistics leaders (MPSF matches only):
Bryan Berman: 7th in aces per game (0.28)
Ben Brockman: 5th in digs per game (2.37)
Theo Brunner: 2nd in hitting (.522)
David Kennedy: 5th in hitting (.468)
Bart Kowalski: 1st in assists per game (13.63)
Evan Patak: 1st in kills per game (6.09); 1st in aces per game (1.18); 1st in points per game (7.71)
UCSB: 1st in hitting (.372); 1st in kills per game (16.51); 1st in aces per game (2.00); 1st in assists per game (15.60); 4th in digs per game (9.33); 8th in blocks per game (2.80)

Three Gauchos have recorded double-doubles this season:
Evan Patak (2): 32 kills, 17 digs at Hawai'i (2/8); 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)

For the Pepperdine match on Feb. 3, UCSB's Robertson Gymnasium hosted 1,068 fans. It was the highest attendance figure since 1,422 packed in on Jan. 27, 2001 vs. Stanford. The attendance record for a UCSB match is 4,310 against UCLA on April 22, 1983 in the Thunderdome. The Robertson Gymnasium record is 2,935 vs. UCLA on April 12, 1997.

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.