UCSB Takes on UC Irvine in First Round of MPSF Playoffs

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• The Schedule

Saturday,  Apr. 20, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
No. 7 UC Santa Barbara (15-15. 11-13) at No. 2 UCI (22-6, 18-16)
at the Bren Center in Irvine, Calif.
Series record vs. the Anteaters – 45-24
Streak vs. the Anteaters – Lost 6
UCSB Streak Overall – Lost 1
UCI Streak Overall – Won 5
Last time out vs. the Anteaters – L, 3-1 (2/14/2013)

• Gauchos Split Final Two Games of the Regular Season
UCSB went 1-1 in two four-set matches last week against USC and Pepperdine. Although they fell short to the Waves, UCSB brought the heat against the Trojans. Per usual, Evan Licht had an amazing performance on Wednesday night, complete with 19 kills and a career-high four service aces. At the net, Jake Staahl slammed down eight blocks, while Dylan Davis and Jonah Seif each recorded six. Austin Kingi lead the defense with 11 digs and aided the offense with nine hard kills and three service aces. The Gauchos need to play tough like this on both sides of the court to be strong contenders in the MPSF Tournament.

• History to Uphold
The last time the Gauchos were in the postseason was in 2011, where they made it all the way to the NCAA Championships. Coincidentally, UCSB was also ranked 7th that year. The Gauchos powered through BYU, Long Beach State, and USC to take the MPSF Championship. UCSB made their first Final Four Appearance since 1988 and came out on top of USC yet again. However, their Cinderella story came to an end when Ohio State bested the Gauchos in five close sets. Now, UCSB looks to continue this high-level of postseason play as they take on UCI.

• The Last of the 2011 NCAA Runner-Ups
The last remaining starter of the 2011 NCAA finalist team, Dylan Davis will have his last shot at the postseason. One of four seniors, Davis is working hard to get the Gauchos pack into the NCAA Championships. He has shut down the opposition at the net, racking up 437 total blocks in his career - just 18 shy of UCSB's 455 blocking record. Undoubtedly, Davis has had an incredible season thus far. He currently leads the nation in hitting percentage with a .438 clip and ranks third in blocks per set by averaging 1.37.

• Best of the Best
Undeniably, the Gauchos are a well-rounded team and have some of the best athletes in the country. On top of Davis' national rankings, four other Gauchos make the cut. Jonah Seif is 7th in assists per set by averaging an astounding10.51. With a 1.18 average, Jake Staahl ranks 12th in blocks per set. At libero, Chad Kingi has averaged 2.39 digs per set, ranking him 13th. Rounding out the rankings, Evan Licht's accuracy from behind the line places him at 19th in aces per set (.33). UCSB has the potential to go far with top athletes in all the aspects of the game.
• Anything You Need
Austin Kingi continues his high level of play in all aspects of the court, making him one of UCSB's most versatile weapons. Against Pepperdine, he hammered 13 kills and picked up a team-high eight digs. Even more, Austin has picked up 20 service aces and 41 blocks this season.  

• Setting Perfection
Freshman Jonah Seif sets all over the court, lining his teammates up for perfect kills. Seif recorded over 40 assists in the last three games, totalling in 1051 for the year. He leads the team in assists and ranks fifth in the MPSF in assists per set, the highest of any freshman this year.

• UCSB Killing It
Evan Licht, Austin Kingi, and Dylan Davis have each reached over 200 kills this year. Licht's dominance on the court culminated in 227 kills, the frontrunner performance for the Gauchos. Not too far behind sits Austin Kingi, who has pounded away 216, including nine double-digit performances. Most consistently, Davis put away 210 kills at a remarkable .438 clip. Throughout this year, the Gauchos have outswung their opponents 1381 to 1338 kills.

• UCI Match-Up
UCSB has their work cut out for them in the quarterfinals on Saturday when the Gauchos take on the Anteaters for the first time in postseason play. UCI won the national championship last year and has topped the Gauchos twice this season. In the first match-up, UCSB was hurt by double digit kills from Tillie, La Cavera, and Hughes. UCI put up double digit kills once again from Dejno, Tillie, and Hughes in the second meeting. Still, the Gauchos have proved that they can play with anyone when they are on their game. UCSB needs to cut off the Anteater momentum and start generating its own. The last time UCSB saw the Anteaters was when the Gauchos had hit a lull in the season. Now, UCSB is definitely playing like a different team, a stronger team. Nonetheless, the Gauchos need to pull out all the stops to upset UCI and move on in the tournament.

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