Matadors and Mastodons Up Next for Gauchos

Matadors and Mastodons Up Next for Gauchos

Feb. 27, 2007

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Wednesday, February 28, 7 p.m. (PT)
#4 UCSB at #11 Cal State Northridge
The Matadome
Northridge, Calif.

Friday, March 2, 4 p.m. (PT)
#4 UCSB at #8 Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne
Hilliard Gates Sports Center
Fort Wayne, Ind.

Saturday, March 3, 4 p.m. (PT)
#4 UCSB at #8 Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne
Hilliard Gates Sports Center
Fort Wayne, Ind.

Last Meeting: 1/6/07 at UCSB (Elephant Bar Invitational)
Result: UCSB 3, CSUN 1 (30-25, 24-30, 30-17, 30-22)
2007 Series: UCSB leads 1-0
2006 Series: CSUN led 3-0
All-Time Series Record: UCSB leads 41-26
Last CSUN Win: 3/31/06 at CSUN
Result: CSUN 3, UCSB 2 (30-20, 30-24, 22-30, 27-30, 15-12)
Current Streak: UCSB one win

Last Meeting: 3/18/05 at UCSB
Result: UCSB 3, IPFW 0 (30-20, 30-24, 30-25)
2007 Series: first meeting
2006 Series: N/A
All-Time Series Record: UCSB leads 15-2
Last IPFW Win: 1/19/03 at IPFW
Result: IPFW 3, UCSB 0 (30-27, 30-15, 30-25)
Current Streak: UCSB, two wins

No. 3 UCSB dropped a 3-1 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) decision at No. 7 UCLA Feb. 23 at Pauley Pavilion. It was the second loss in a row for the Gauchos, while the Bruins, the reigning national champions, picked up their seventh win in their last eight matches. Scores of the match went 30-28, 30-24, 30-32, and 30-19. The Gauchos had five players with 10 or more kills, but they hit just .274 as a team compared to UCLA's .380 attack percentage. UCSB's hitting started at .353 in the opening game, but went down in each ensuing frame. UCSB's Theo Brunner had a team-high 14 kills and was followed by Evan Patak (13), Bryan Berman (10), David Kennedy (10), and Aaron Richman (10). Patak, who leads the nation in service aces, added another five to his total. Bart Kowalski and Max Klineman split the setting responsibilities and tallied 30 and 21 assists, respectively. Richman led the Gauchos on defense with 10 digs. UCLA was paced by Steve Klosterman, who put down a match-high 23 kills. Defensively, Tony Ker finished with 18 digs. Setter Kevin Ker recorded 59 assists, and Jamie Diefenbach had seven stuffs at the net. The Gauchos are 1-2 against the Bruins this season with each team winning an MPSF match. UCLA swept Santa Barbara during the Elephant Bar Collegiate Invitational Feb. 5 and has now won 13 of the last 14 match-ups between the two squads.

In a heavyweight battle between two of the top three men's volleyball teams in the nation, UCSB came up short and was defeated 3-1 at home vs. UC Irvine Feb. 21. The Gauchos had their four-match win streak snapped as the Anteaters have won the past four match-ups between the two squads. UCSB won the opening game 30-22, but UC Irvine came back to take the next three sets by scores of 30-27, 30-18, and 30-25. The Anteaters hit .504 for the match compared to UCSB's .303 attack percentage. Irvine was tough at the net as well and out-blocked Santa Barbara 10.0 to 4.5. The major turning point of the night came in the third game as UCSB, which entered the match ranked second nationally with a .373 hitting percentage, hit -.042 with eight kills and nine errors in 24 swings. It was the first time this season that the Gauchos hit in the negative in any game. In contrast, the Anteaters hit .542 in the frame. Opposite hitter Evan Patak posted a match-high 26 kills and added four aces for the Gauchos, while middle Theo Brunner totaled 10 kills. Libero Ben Brockman had a match-high seven digs and setter Bart Kowalski amassed 50 assists in the loss. UC Irvine, which won its fourth consecutive match, had four players hit double figures in kills. Matt Webber led with 16, Jayson Jablonsky and David Smith each put away 15, and Cole Reinholm recorded 11. Smith hit a torrid .938 with no errors in 16 attacks and also had a match-high six blocks. Setter Brian Thornton racked up 64 helpers and had a team-best five digs. Aaron Harrell, the AVCA National Player of the Week, hit .538 with eight kills and added three digs and four blocks. The Anteaters committed a stunning 21 service errors on the night. It was UCSB's second loss to UC Irvine this season.

Cal State Northridge enters the week with an 8-9 overall record and is in sixth place in the MPSF with an even 6-6 mark. The Matadors lost a pair of league matches last week, the first a 3-0 defeat at UCLA, the second a four-game loss at UC Irvine. Prior to the loss against the Bruins, CSUN had won three consecutive matches. Four players have 100+ kills, including Isaac Kneubuhl (175), James Lischer (169), Eric Vance (157), and Dan Rhodes (123). Rhodes is putting away a team-best 4.03 points per game. Setter Travis Bluemling is averaging 12.12 assists per game, while Vance is the team dig leader, averaging 1.56 per game. At the net, Lischer has a team-high 64 blocks. The Matadors are hitting .276 as a team, just ahead of opponents at .275. Northridge is 3-3 at the Matadome this season.

Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne goes into its matches against UCSB with a 9-3 overall record. The Mastodons are in fourth place in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association's (MIVA) Shondell/Dunlap Division with a 4-3 record. IPFW began its season with an eight-match win streak, but has lost its last two. On Feb. 23, Ball State upset the Mastodons 3-1 and the next night Ohio State downed IPFW in four. IPFW has faced just one MPSF squad this season as it swept Stanford twice in Fort Wayne. The Mastodons lead their opponents in just about every statistical category including hiting (.310-.212), kills per game (14.93-13.31), digs per game (8.89-8.02), and blocks per game (139.5-102.5). Individually, C.J. Macias is averaging a team-high 5.27 kills per game, good for fifth in the country. He is also the top digger on teh team, averaging 1.98 a game. Josh Stewart is fourth in the nation with a .528 attack percentage and eighth with 1.36 blocks per game. Setter Colin Lundeen is averaging 12.26 assists and Indiana-Purdue is 6-1 at the Gates Center so far this season.

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 498-357 (.582) 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.

Here's a week-by-week look at where UCSB has stood in the AVCA Coaches Poll this season:
•Feb. 26 - 4th; •Feb. 19 - 3rd; •Feb. 12 - T 3rd; •Feb. 5 - 4th; •Jan. 29 - 3rd; •Jan. 22 - 4th; •Jan. 15 - 6th; •Jan. 8 - 6th; •Preseason - 6th.
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):
Theo Brunner: 6th in hitting (.511)
David Kennedy: 13th in hitting (.437)
Bart Kowalski: 6th in assists per game (13.13)
Evan Patak: 1st in aces per game (1.127); 2nd in points per game (7.29); 4th in kills per game (5.76)
UCSB: 2nd in hitting (.362)

Gauchos among the MPSF statistics leaders (MPSF matches only):
Bryan Berman: 6th in aces per game (0.31)
Ben Brockman: 6th in digs per game (2.24)
Theo Brunner: 2nd in hitting (.504)
David Kennedy: 3rd in hitting (.448)
Bart Kowalski: 3rd in assists per game (13.06)
Evan Patak: 1st in aces per game (1.17); 1st in points per game (7.50); 2nd in kills per game (5.91)
UCSB: 1st in hitting (.359); 1st in kills per game (16.25); 1st in aces per game (2.02); 2nd in assists per game (15.32); 3rd in digs per game (9.26); 9th in blocks per game (2.65)

Three Gauchos have recorded a total of five 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 (2): 10 kills, 10 digs at UCLA (2/23); 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.