January 17, 2013

Gauchos Prepare for UCLA Rematch

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The Schedule

Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
No. 8 UC Santa Barbara (3-2, 1-1) vs. No. 5 UCLA (5-3, 1-1)
at Rob Gym
Series record vs. the Bruins – 32-119
Streak vs the Bruins – Lost 3
UCSB Streak Overall – Lost 1
UCLA Streak Overall – Lost 2
Last time out vs. the Bruins – L, 3-2 (1/4/13)

Friday, Jan. 25, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
No. 8 UC Santa Barbara (2-1) at No. 15 Pacific (1-1, 0-1)
at the Alex G. Spanos Center in Stockton, Calif.
Series record vs. the Tigers – 22-13
Streak vs. the Tigers – Lost 3
UCSB Streak Overall – Lost 1
Pacific Streak Overall – Lost 1
Last time out vs. the Tigers – L, 3-2 (4/4/2012)

The Gauchos' Winning Streak Comes to an End
UCSB traveled to Cal State Northridge on Friday night, resulting in their second loss of the season. Nonetheless, the Gauchos had an impressive game against the Matadors. Austin Kingi led UCSB with 15 kills, and the team hitting percentage outshined their opposition (.241 to .219). Junior Libero Chad Kingi swept up 14 digs throughout the night and Jonah Seif picked up 12. Yet it was not enough to overthrow the Matador's dominance in blocking (11.0 to 6.0) and serving aces (11 to 4). After swapping set wins for the first four sets, the Gauchos were unable to convert the last set, ultimately losing 13-15. This marks the second time UCSB was unable to pull through in a five set game.

Looking Forward to a Rematch Against the Bruins
In the UCSB Invitational, the Gauchos were pitted against UCLA in the opening match. Even with the Gauchos starting with a 2-0 set lead, the Bruins took the win in five sets. The switch of momentum had UCSB head coach Rick McLaughlin addressing the game as a "wake up call." The Gauchos swept three straight matches after the loss, but fell in their last game against Cal State Northridge. The Bruins are experiencing a bit of a performance dip as well, having lost two straight – including a loss to unranked Hawai'i. UCSB will be looking for their first win over UCLA since 2011.

Freshman Setter Jonah Sief Has First Double Double
True freshman Jonah Sief is starting his college career off with a bang. Last Friday night, Sief put up his first double double with 50 assists and 12 digs. This was the second time Sief accumulated 50 assists, with the first being against UCLA. Sief was named MVP of the Marmonte League his senior year of high school and looks to continue that same remarkable level of play at UCSB. In 2012, the Gauchos received 50 assists from a setter just three times, so with his next 50+ outing, Jonah will already match last year's team output.

Statistical Look at UCSB's Start of Conference Play
With a 1-1 conference record, the Gauchos put up striking numbers both offensively and defensively. In just the two matches, they gathered 109 kills, averaging 13.62 kills per set and placing them at a commendable .309 hitting percentage. Led by Seif, the Gauchos have totaled 104 assists in conference play. On the defensive end of the spectrum, UCSB is all over the floor, picking up 81 digs. Still, there is room for improvement as the Gauchos only average 1.12 blocks per set. Overall, UCSB is off to an admirable start in conference play and look to improve even more as the season progresses.  

Poll Vaulters
After debuting at No. 13 in the AVCA preseason poll, the Gauchos have already risen five spots to No. 8 in the second weekly poll, which is the biggest jump of any school in the NCAA. The Gauchos have not been ranked this high since the final poll of the 2011 season in which the Gauchos reached the NCAA Tournament.

Hitting Them Where It Hurts
Entering the week, UCSB freshman middle blocker Ryan Hardy had the highest hitting percentage of all eligible hitters in the MPSF. Pacific's Christian Alin was second best at .570, while Dylan Davis's .368 clip was second best among the Gauchos. Freshman setter Jonah Seif also cracked the conference leaderboards, ranking second in assists with 11.00 per game.
 
Limiting the Opposition
Though UCSB's blocking and defense haven't been as overwhelming as their deep offense, the Gauchos are still limiting their opponents to one of the lowest hitting percentages in the country. Just one of three MPSF teams to have an opponents hitting percentage under .200, UCSB's .194 clip ranks second in the conference.

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