April 22, 2011

No. 7 UCSB Heads to No. 2 BYU to Kick Off MPSF Tournament

April 22, 2011

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• The Schedule
Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament - First Round

Saturday, April 23, 2011 at 6 p.m. PST
at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah
No. 7 UC Santa Barbara (14-14, 11-11)
at No. 2 Brigham Young University (20-7, 16-6)
Series record vs. the Cougars- 19-30
Streak- Won 1
2010 Series- BYU 2-0
2011 Series- BYU 2-1
Last time out vs. the Cougars- W, 3-0

• Can't Make it to the Court?
For this weekend's quarterfinal, BYU is providing live stats for the match. Head to BYUcougars.com for more information.

• Playoff Primer
The BYU Cougars have been an MPSF powerhouse all year, but the Gauchos are just one of five teams to have bested them in a match this year. In that win on Feb. 18, the Gauchos were led by senior opposite Cullen Irons, who paced the team with 18 kills. Sophomore middle Dylan Davis also had one of his stronger matches of the year, finishing with 11 kills on a .556 hitting percentage. It was just the Cougar's second straight set loss of the year. On the season, the Gauchos are 1-2 against BYU, and have lost six of the last seven overall matches between the two teams.

• UCSB Hopes that History Repeats Itself
The Gauchos and the Cougars have not met in the playoffs since 2005, no doubt due in large part to UCSB's four year absence from the tourney. But the last time these two locked up in the postseason, the Gauchos upset BYU in a five-set stunner in Provo to advance to the conference semifinals. Adam Ulfers led the Gauchos that night with 19 kills. The Gauchos fell to Long Beach State in the subsequent semifinal match.

• Scouting the Cougars
BYU enters Saturday's quarterfinal on a bit of a roll, having won their past seven matches, including sweeps of No. 4 Long Beach State and No. 13 Pepperdine. UCSB's number one priority will be the strength of their own serving, in order to prevent passing that will lead to attacks from BYU outsides Taylor Sander and Robb Stowell. Both outside hitters eclipsed the 300-kill mark (Sander had 326, while Stowell had 393). Sander was named the MPSF Freshman of the Year this past week, and both hitters were named to the All-MPSF first team. Joining them on the first team was middle blocker Futi Tavana, who gave the Gauchos fits in all three matches during the regular season.. Futi compiled 19 blocks over his three matches against UCSB. Reducing the effectiveness of these three players is key to a Gauchos victory.

• Gauchos All Over the All-MPSF
For the second consecutive year, the Gauchos had four players named to the All-MPSF team. Jeff Menzel (1st team, fourth in MPSF kills), Scott Slaughter (2nd team, leader in MPSF hitting percentage), Andy McGuire (2nd team, fourth in MPSF digs), and Vince Devany (honorable mention, second in MPSF assists) all represented the Gauchos in this years awards.

• Menzel Saving the Best for Last
Though Jeff Menzel's solid attacking has been consistent all year (including double-digits kills in 24 of 28 matches, and 14 consecutive matches at one point), but he saved his best work for the last few matches of the season. Menzel has recorded 19+ kills in four of his last five matches, including a season-high 26 kills against No. 3 Stanford. The Gauchos will need Jeff to be on the top of his game to advance in the playoffs, the Gauchos are just 1-3 when Menzel records less than 10 kills.

• Gaucho Legends
The end of the 2011 regular season marked the end of some of the most storied careers in Gaucho history. Outside hitter Jeff Menzel finished with 1971 kills (3rd most in school history) and 130 service aces (2nd most in school history). Setter Vince Devany finishes with 4384 assists, good for third all time. Libero Andy McGuire compiled 906 digs, second-most in school history.

• 300 Club
This year, the Gauchos had two 300-kill players for the first time since 2008 when then-freshman Jeff Menzel and Theo Brunner both finished above that mark. This year, Menzel (team-leading 403) and senior opposite Cullen Irons (330 kills) led the way for UCSB.

• Irons Rounding Back Into Form
After a loss against Stanford on Feb. 26, senior opposite Cullen Irons had 10+ kills in just two of UCSB's following 8 matches. To put that in perspective, Cullen had 10+ kills in 15 of the Gauchos first 17 matches. After that bit of inconsistent play, it seems Irons has found the form that led him to be part of one of the most formidable outside attacking duos in the nation alongside Jeff Menzel. Cullen recorded a season-high 23 kills against Stanford on Apr. 8 and has reached 9+ kills in four of his past five matches-averaging 13.2 kills per match over that span.

• Gauchos in the Conference Top-10
A number of Gauchos finished the regular season high up on the conference leaderboard. Senior middle blocker Scott Slaughter led the conference in hitting percentage at .505. Senior outside hitter Jeff Menzel finished in the fourth in the nation in kills and kills per game, seventh in total points, and tenth in service aces. Senior opposite Cullen Irons was ninth in the conference in kills and tenth in kills per game. Senior libero Andy McGuire finished fourth in the conference in digs and digs per game.

• The McLaughlin File
Rick McLaughlin, formerly the men's volleyball coach at Loyola Marymount, an assistant women's coach at UCSB, and the women's coach at Golden West College, was named UCSB's head men's volleyball coach in June of 2008. During his first season at the helm, McLaughlin led the Gauchos to an 8-19 overall record and helped two of his players earn All-MPSF honors. This past year, McLaughlin led his team to a 13-19 overall record and remained in playoff contention through the last weekend og the season. McLaughlin spent ample time during the 2009 offseason with USA Volleyball- first guiding the junior team to the 2009 NORCEA Pan-American Cup championship in Chiapas, Mexico before assisting with the Men's Senior National Team during their qualifications for the 2010 World Championships. McLaughlin led the LMU program for eight years beginning in 1993 and ending in 2000 when the school dropped the program. He was named MPSF Coach of the Year in 1998 and 2000. Following the 2000 season, he was also selected ASICS/Volleyball Magazine National Coach of the Year after guiding the Lions to the semifinals of the MPSF Tournament, a first for the program. In the fall of 2001, he joined the staff of his brother Jim - a UCSB alumnus - to help rebuild the women's program at the University of Washington. He began his collegiate coaching career under Marv Dunphy at Pepperdine, coaching the 1991 and 1992 seasons and helping the Waves to the 1992 NCAA Championship. McLaughlin's second stint in Malibu (2002-05) resulted in three Final Four appearances and the 2005 National Championship. He spent one year as an assistant on Kathy Gregory's UCSB women's staff in 2005 a year in which the Gauchos went 21-9 overall and 12-2 in the Big West, sharing the league title and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. In 2006, McLaughlin became head women's coach at Golden West College, where two successful years culminated in 2007 when he guided the program to the state title game. As a player, McLaughlin was a four-year starting setter at Loyola Marymount. When he completed his career, he ranked among the Lions' top-10 in career assists (1,691) and service aces (58). At LMU, McLaughlin earned a bachelor's degree in business administration and finance

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