Though the 2011 season was an up-and-down affair, nobody could predict the UCSB hot streak that ESPN commentator and volleyball legend Karch Kiraly would call "one of the greatest runs in the history of collegiate sports."
The Gauchos would win three consecutive games in the MPSF tournament against teams they were a combined 1-6 against in 2011. To reach the final, the Gauchos upset the No. 1 team in the nation twice within a week.
With an unspectacular 14-14 record, UCSB entered the MPSF tournament as the No. 7 seed, earning a matchup against a BYU team that had gone undefeated at home all season. Jeff Menzel led the Gauchos to a 3-1 upset of the Cougars with 27 kills. In their semifinal matchup against Long Beach State, Menzel led the way again with 23 kills in another 3-1 upset.
The Gauchos accomplished the improbable just a few days later, upsetting the No. 1 ranked USC Trojans in their own building, capturing their first MPSF title and advancing to the NCAA tournament for just the fifth time in school history.
As fate would have it, UCSB drew USC as their first opponent in the four-team NCAA tournament. Dylan Davis put the Gauchos on his back in that match, hitting an NCAA record .882 on 15 kills and giving the Gauchos their second win over USC in just five days.
The magic would eventually run out in the National Championship Match against Ohio St., but is a run we will never forget.
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