No. 7 Gauchos Return from Break for Rematch with Cal State Northridge

March 30, 2006

This Week's Matchups:
Friday, March 21, 7:00 p.m.
No. 7 UC Santa Barbara at No. 4 Cal State Northridge
Northridge, Calif.

The Skinny
The Gauchos return from a two-week break with a 12-11 overall record and a 9-10 mark in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Friday's match will be the first since the Gauchos lost 3-1 to Cal State Northridge on March 15 at Robertson Gym. In the game, Northridge hit for a .376 clip to the Gauchos' .305 percentage. UCSB junior opposite Evan Patak finished with 25 kills in the match, but the combination of Brian Waite (17 kills, .682 hitting percentage) and Dan Rhodes (14 kills) was too much for Santa Barbara.

At 8-9 in the MPSF, the Gauchos stand alone in seventh place, a spot behind this week's opponent Cal State Northridge who owns a 10-7 league record. Friday's match will be the third meeting between the Gauchos and the Matadors in 2006. The first came on January 7 in the UCSB/EBar Invitational when Northridge swept UCSB to claim third place in the tournament. CSUN was led in the match by Dan Rhodes who finished with 14 kills.

Scouting the Opponent
Cal State Northridge enters the week with a 15-8 overall record and a 10-7 conference mark. Winners of seven of their last eight matches, the Matadors earned their highest ranking of the season from the CSTV/AVCA Top 15 Poll at No. 4. After beating the Gauchos on March 15, Northridge won its next two games against UC San Diego and Long Beach State.

Patak Yourself on the Back
Junior opposite Evan Patak has gradually distinguished himself as one of the nation's elite players. In MPSF play, Patak is averaging 6.00 kills per game, over one kill more than the next closest player, Robert Tarr of Long Beach State. Patak also leads the MPSF in points with 7.08 per game and in aces with 33 in 45 games played, and average of .733 kills per game.

Long Distance Brunner
Sophomore middle blocker Theo Brunner currently holds the fifth best hitting percentage in the MPSF. Brunner's average of .429 is five points behind Friday's opponent Brian Waite of Northridge.

All Together Now
As it stands now, UCSB, as a team, sits atop the conference in two significant statistical categories and is second in another. The Gauchos lead the MPSF in both aces (1.482 per game) and assists (15.79 per game). UCSB's 16.38 kills per game is second only to Hawaii's 16.53 mark.