Fifth-Ranked Men's Volleyball Heads to BYU For Conference Tournament Final Four

Fifth-Ranked Men's Volleyball Heads to BYU For Conference Tournament Final Four

Full Release in PDF Format

• The Schedule
Thursday, Apr. 24, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. PDT
(4) UCSB (18-8, 16-8) vs. (1) BYU (19-8, 18-6)
at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah
AVCA Ranks: UCSB (5), BYU(4)
Series record/streak vs. BYU – 22-34/Won 1
UCSB Streak/Last 10 – Won 3/7-3
BYU Streak/Last 10 – Won 1/6-4
2014 series: Tied 1-1

Saturday, Apr. 26, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. PDT
MPSF Tournament Championship
Winner UCSB/BYU vs. Winner Stanford/Pepperdine
at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah

• Broadcast Information
Thursday's semifinal match against BYU will have a number of broadcast options. BYU TV will broadcast the match (channel listings are available below) and stream on their website, with Jarom Jordan providing play-by-play commentary and Steve Vail on color. The Cougars will also have an audiocast available for the match. As always, live stats will be provided. For links to the video and audio streams, click here.

BYU TV Listings
Cox Cable: Channel 150
DISH Network: Channel 9403
DirecTV: Channel 374

• Gauchos End Up Fourth After Wild MPSF Regular Season
After what was arguably the most unpredictable and parity-filled regular season in the history of the MPSF, UCSB ended up in fourth place, just two games behind top-seeded BYU. The team's 18-8 overall and 16-8 conference records are the best for the program in some time and represent the best regular season in Rick McLaughlin's tenure (since 2009). UCSB's overall winning percentage of .692 is tied for the best in the MPSF era and the best since 1988 (28-11, .718). The team's .667 conference winning percentage is the second best in the MPSF era (1997: .684). In addition, the team's 16 conference wins are the most in program history,

• Comeback for the Ages
In UCSB's MPSF Quarterfinal win over UCLA, the team had to fight off set deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 in order to win. The Gauchos trailed 14-7 in a do-or-die fourth set, but rebounded with an 18-6 run to even the score before claiming the fifth set and eliminating the Bruins. For a full recap, click here.

• Tournament History Under McLaughlin
This is the third appearance in the MPSF Tournament for UCSB in McLaughlin's tenure, with previous tournament trips occuring in 2011 and 2013. The Gauchos sport a 4-1 overall record in MPSF Tournament games under McLaughlin, going an undefeated 3-0 in 2011 en route to the program's first Tournament Championship and bowing out in the first round to eventual national champion UC Irvine last year. In 2011, the seventh-seeded Gauchos upset second-seeded BYU, sixth-seeded Long Beach State, and top-seeded USC, all on the road. Last year's first-round loss saw the Gauchos push UCI to five games at the Bren Center, but the team was ultimately unable to pull off the upset.

• A Brief History of UCSB in the Postseason
UCSB is 17-27 all-time in the postseason, with a 10-10 record in the MPSF  Tournament (since 1993). The Gauchos are 2-0 all-time against BYU in the postseason, with wins coming in 2005 and 2011. UC Santa Barbara has made seven trips to the NCAA Tournament (1970, '71, '72, '74, '75, '88, 2011) reaching the finals five times but going 0-5 in championship matches.

• NCAA Experience
This year's UCSB squad consists of five members who were a part of the 2011 NCAA Championship runner up team. Of the five, Evan Licht played the largest part, appearing in 25 matches, mostly as a serving specialist, and recording nine aces. Chad Kingi was the backup setter that year. Weston Nielsen, Jake Staahl, and Kevin Donohue all redshirted that year.

• Back-to-Back
This is UC Santa Barbara's first time clinching consecutive postseason berths under McLaughlin and the first time overall since the 2006-07 seasons.

• Licht It Up
With 91 career aces, Evan Licht is currently tied for third in program history with Bryan Berman. He trails only Evan Patak (255) and Jeff Menzel (135). Licht currently has the third most aces in the MPSF (41).

• King-i of the Dig
UCSB's senior libero, Chad Kingi, ranks fifth all-time in the UCSB annals with 717 career digs. His 24-dig performance at Long Beach State on Apr. 3 of this year was the most by a UCSB player since 2004, the second-most in the rally-scoring era, and fifth-most all-time. He was also the first player from any MPSF squad since the 2009 season to record two dozen scoops.

• Staahling the Opposition
Junior middle blocker Jake Staahl finished the regular season with the fourth-best blocking average (1.24 per game) and seventh-best hitting percentage (.417) in the conference. He was one of just two players, alongside Hawai'i's Taylor Averill, to finish in the top-seven in both categories.

• Poll Position
The latest AVCA poll ranked the Gauchos at No. 5 in the nation for the fifth straight week. UCSB has been as high as No. 4 this year, the program's highest ranking since 2011.

• All-American Talent
When the Gauchos take the court on Thursday night, they will start three players up for AVCA All-American consideration in Jonah Seif, Chad Kingi, and Jake Staahl.

• Spreading the Ball Around
Without a dominant hitter, UCSB has had to rely on an egalitarian offensive approach. Setter Jonah Seif has done his part spreading out the offense, as five different Gauchos have led the team in kills in a match, led by Licht (eight times), Austin Kingi, Nielsen (seven apiece), Matt Hanley (six), and Ryan Thompson (one).

• Proven in Provo
Under McLaughlin, UCSB has proven itself to be one of the few teams to have any success at the Smith Fieldhouse, having won a match there in two of the past three seasons despite BYU maintaining an .895 winning percentage in that time frame. In 2014, UCSB was the only team able to reach the fifth set against the Cougars, who are undefeated at home. BYU was undefeated at Smith Fieldhouse in the 2011 season as well until the Gauchos handed them their first home loss of the year in the MPSF Quarterfinals.

• Five Gauchos Named to All-MPSF Team
UCSB had five players named to the All-MPSF team last week, the most honorees for a single year in program history. Setter Jonah Seif became the first UCSB setter to gain First Team status since Todd Rogers in 1996. He was joined on the All-Conference team by Evan Licht (2nd team), Jake Staahl, Matt Hanley, and Chad Kingi (all honorable mentions).

• California Dreaming
UC Santa Barbara is the only squad in NCAA men's volleyball to have a team comprised solely of players from California.