February 24, 2011

Gauchos Rise to Third in Rankings, Head North

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Feb. 24, 2011

• The Schedule
Friday, February 25, 2011 at 7 p.m. in Stockton, California
No. 3 UC Santa Barbara (9-6, 7-5) at No. 15 Pacific (6-9, 2-7)
Series record vs. the Tigers- 21-10
Streak- Won 11
2010 Series- UCSB 2-0
Last time out vs. the Tigers- W, 3-0

Saturday, February 26, 2011 at 7 p.m. in Stanford, California No. 3 UC Santa Barbara (9-6, 7-5) at No. 4 Stanford (10-4, 7-4)
Series record vs. the Cardinals- 42-27
Streak- Lost 1
2010 Series- Tied 1-1
Last time out vs. the Cardinals- L, 3-0

• 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.

• The Week in Review
After sweeping the UCLA Bruins the week before, the Gauchos turned to host the BYU Cougars for a pair of MPSF matches. In the Thursday night game, the Gauchos came out roaring. They took the first set on the back of six kills from senior opposite Cullen Irons and another five from senior outside hitter Jeff Menzel. The slow start seemed to rally the Cougars, who clogged up the UCSB attack and won the following three sets to take the match. On Friday night, the Gauchos came out strong again- Irons compiled another six kills and Menzel recorded a perfect hitting percentage in the first game for the second time in as many nights. The Gauchos did not let BYU come back this time, taking the match in straight sets. Three Gauchos finished with double-digit kills, Irons led the match with 18, Menzel added 11, and sophomore middle blocker finished with 11.The win snapped a five-match losing streak against BYU.

• Dynamic Duo
The Gauchos boast one of the top attacking duos in the country in seniors Jeff Menzel and Cullen Irons. Both find themselves in the top 10 in the MPSF in kills per set with identical 3.98 kills per set averages.. Menzel, an outside hitter, is tied for 6th in the conference with 203 kills on the campaign. Irons, an opposite, sits at eighth with 199 kills. UCSB is the only school to have two players in the top 10.

• Climbing the Rankings
UCSB currently finds itself ranked third in the AVCA coaches poll following a five-match stretch in which the Gauchos won four, including a sweep of UCLA and a win against No. 2 BYU. The No. 3 ranking is the highest for the Gauchos since 2007, when they were also ranked third. The Gauchos have been on a steady climb in the rankings this season, jumping from eighth to sixth to fourth to third.

• Great Scott
Senior middle blocker Scott Slaughter has been one of the most consistent Gaucho players thus far. Despite mildly turning his ankle against BYU on Thursday night, Scott still managed to post hitting percentages of .333 and .833 for the two matches. Scott now tops the entire conference in hitting percentage, with a .490 overall clip. Scott is third on the team in kills (with 98) and service aces (9). Slaughter now also leads the Gauchos in blocks with 49 for the campaign.

• Early Bloomers
For all the ups and down the Gauchos have endured this season, one place they have found consistency is in the first game of the match. UCSB has won 73% of the opening sets they've played up to now, compared to a 52% winning percentage for all other matches. On aggregate, the Gauchos have beat opponents 357-298 this season.

• Devany Dishing it Out
This past week, senior setter Vince Devany passed the 500 assist mark for the third time in his UCSB career. He has reached 489 assists in all four of his years as a Gaucho. Vince had an especially strong week against powerhouse BYU, compiling 41 and 40 assists in the two matches for a total of 81 on the week. Devany's 578 assists lead the MPSF, and his 11.56 assist per game average place him second. Vince has a prime opportunity to become the career assist leader for UCSB this season. His 3850 career assists are currently third all time. He''ll need to surpass the 5011 assists compiled by Jon Wallace to become number one.

• Conference Killers
UCSB has demonstrated that they have one of the premier attacking games in the country. With Cullen Irons (199 kills) and team-leading Jeff Meff Menzel (203 kills), last year's nationwide leaders in kills, receiving set-ups from senior setter Vince Devany, the Gauchos rank second in the MPSF in kills, assists. and hitting percentage.

• 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.