November 25, 2006

Men's Volleyball Picked Sixth in Preseason Coaches Poll

Nov. 25, 2006

Santa Barbara, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team has been picked sixth in the second annual Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Preseason Coaches Poll. UC Irvine, a 2006 national semifinalist and MPSF regular season champion, garnered the top spot.

UCSB, which finished the 2006 season with a 13-16 record and placed eighth in the MPSF with a 9-13 mark, totaled 62 points in this year's voting and grabbed the sixth spot in the poll for the second straight time.

UC Irvine, which was picked to finish eighth in last year's poll, ended its season as the fourth place team at the 2006 NCAA Championships after being defeated by Penn State in the semifinals. The Anteaters return four All-Americans, including the National Player of the Year in outside hitter Jayson Jablonsky.

Brigham Young, last year's favorite in the poll, was chosen to finish second this season. Hawai'i, Pepperdine, and UCLA tied for the third spot, followed by UCSB in sixth. Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State tied for seventh, USC was ninth, Pacific 10th, Stanford 11th, and UC San Diego 12th. UCLA won its final 14 matches of 2006 to take both the MPSF and NCAA Tournament titles.

Head coach Ken Preston is entering his 29th season leading the UCSB program. The Gauchos lost just two players to graduation and return a majority of their top offensive players, including senior opposite Evan Patak (423 kills), senior outside Bryan Berman (264 kills), junior middle Theo Brunner (264 kills), and senior outside Aaron Richman (234 kills). Patak led the MPSF in kills (327, 6.06 KPG), aces (40), and points (7.13 PPG), while Berman led the Gauchos in digs (153) and Brunner was tops on the roster with 90 blocks. UCSB also returns two talented setters in sophomore Max Klineman and senior Bart Kowalski. Klineman amassed 1,279 assists as a true freshman as Kowalski redshirted the 2006 season.

The Gauchos open their 2007 campaign on Jan. 2 at 7 p.m. in Robertson Gymnasium with an exhibition match against Thompson Rivers University. The regular season starts Jan. 5-6 as UCSB hosts its annual Elephant Bar Invitational.

2007 MPSF Preseason Coaches Poll
(first place votes in parentheses)
1. UC Irvine, 17 points (7)
2. Brigham Young, 29 points (3)
3T. Hawai'i, 41 points (1)
3T. Pepperdine, 41 points (1)
3T. UCLA, 41 points
6. UC Santa Barbara, 62 points
7T. Cal State Northridge, 70 points
7T. Long Beach State, 70 points
9. USC, 92 points
10. Pacific, 100 points
11. Stanford, 108 points
12. UC San Diego, 121 points

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