Nov. 13, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Sixteen home dates, including the annual Elephant Bar Restaurant Collegiate Invitational and a conference tilt against reigning national champion UC Irvine, highlight the 2008 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball schedule, head coach Ken Preston announced Tuesday.
The Gauchos' campaign kicks off Jan. 2 with an exhibition match against Canadian powerhouse Alberta at Robertson Gymnasium. The Canadian season begins in mid-September, so the Golden Bears will have plenty of floor time under their belts by the time they visit Santa Barbara.
Alberta will stick around for a few days and take part in the Elephant Bar Restaurant Collegiate Invitational, UCSB's annual eight-team tournament, which will happen Jan. 4-5. Six Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) squads will also compete - Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State, Pacific, Stanford, UC Irvine, and USC. Irvine defeated UCLA in last season's championship match to take the title.
Following the invitational, UCSB hits the road and immediately jumps into MPSF play with matches at Pepperdine (Jan. 9) and USC (Jan. 11). Pepperdine, an NCAA semifinalist last year, put an end to UCSB's 2007 season in the MPSF Tournament, but the Gauchos will have to look no further than the opening week of league play for a rematch.
UCSB then returns home to host five consecutive MPSF contests starting with Cal State Northridge on Jan. 19. Hawai'i comes to Rob Gym for a pair of matches (Feb. 1-2) after the Gauchos swept the season series on Oahu last year.
UCLA, the 2006 national champion, will make its lone regular season appearance in Santa Barbara on Feb. 20. The Gauchos went 2-2 against the Bruins in 2007, which included a thrilling 3-1 win in an MPSF quarterfinal at Rob Gym.
Things don't get any easier from there as UCSB plays at UC Irvine in its very next match (Feb. 23). The Anteaters topped the Gauchos in both meetings last year en route to winning the MPSF and NCAA Tournaments. Following the match in Irvine, UCSB remains on the road for three more MPSF matches.
USC (March 12), Pepperdine (March 15), and Cal Baptist (March 25) come to Rob Gym just prior to a tough three-match road swing at BYU (March 28-29) and UCLA (April 2). The Cougars won two matches in straight sets in Santa Barbara last season.
The Gauchos close out the regular season with three consecutive home matches, the first against UC Irvine on April 5.
Throughout the season Preston will be honored in recognition of his 30th year as UCSB's head coach. Preston, who picked up his 500th career win last season, holds a record of 506-364 with the Gauchos. He has led UCSB to 21 postseason appearances since taking over the team in 1979.
UCSB finished the 2007 season ranked fifth nationally with a 20-12 overall record and a 14-8 MPSF mark. It was the first time since 1989 that the Gauchos amassed 20 or more wins. Two players - middle blocker Theo Brunner and opposite hitter Evan Patak - were named AVCA First Team All-Americans.