No. 11 UCSB Heads to Paradise for Hawaii Doubleheader

Photo by Eric Isaacs
Photo by Eric Isaacs

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• The Schedule
Friday, Feb. 3 at 9:00 PM PT
No. 11 UCSB at No. 5 Hawaii (8-2, 1-2 MPSF)
at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hawaii
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Rainbow Warriors – 37-44 / Won 2
TV: OC Sports / (streaming)
UCSB Streak / Last 10 – Lost 2 / 6-3
UH Streak / Last 10 – Won 3 / 8-2

Saturday, Feb. 4 at 9:00 PM PT
No. 11 UCSB at No. 5 Hawaii
at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hawaii
TV: OC Sports / (streaming)

• The Week in Review
The Gauchos hit their first speed bump of the season last week, dropping a pair of three-set decisions to No. 2 UCLA. The Bruins were totally in control in a Wednesday showdown at Pauley Pavillion, hitting .344 for the match and holding all Gaucho hitters besides Jacob Delson to fewer than seven kills. UCSB put in an improved effort in Friday's re-match at the Thunderdome, hitting .274 for the contest and hanging with the Bruins in the first two sets. UCLA's Mitch Stahl had five aces to lead a strong serve effort from the visitors that proved decisive.

• Rank and File
Despite a pair of three-set losses last week, UCSB remained at No. 11 in this week's AVCA Men's Division I-II Poll, while Hawaii checked in at No. 5. The Rainbow Warriors are just the third ranked team the Gauchos have played this year, accruing an 0-3 record in those matches.

• Delson Ascends
The team's clear go-to outside hitter for the first time in his career, senior Jacob Delson is more than taking advantage of his opportunity. He has led the squad in kills in all nine matches this season, including a career-high 22 kill performance against USC in January. His 37 kills against USC and Cal Baptist resulted in an MPSF Player of the Week nomination, his second of the season. He ranks third in the MPSF with a 4.18 kills per set average.

• Big West Adds Men's Volleyball
2017 will be the last season in the MPSF for UCSB, as the Gauchos will be an inaugural member when the Big West Conference adds men's volleyball for the 2018 season. They will be joined by Hawaii, Long Beach State, UC Irvine, CSUN, and UC San Diego.

• Renaissance Rick
UCSB has thrived in recent years under the direction of coach Rick McLaughlin, recording a 76-48 record (.613 winning percentage) and going to the playoffs in each of the past four seasons. The Gauchos have now made the postseason in five of McLaughlin's eight years, including the program's historic run to the National Championship match in 2011.

• California Boys
As is usually the case, the 2017 UCSB men's volleyball team is comprised solely of California natives. The Gauchos are the only NCAA Division I-II team made up entirely of players from California.

• Common Opponents
UCSB and Hawaii have just one common opponent so far this season: UC Irvine. The Gauchos dropped a five-set heartbreaker to the Anteaters in the team's MPSF opener back on Jan. 11, while UH emerged victorious in four sets in Irvine on Jan. 21.

• Tough Sledding for Visitors in UCSB-UH Series
This weekend, UCSB will be looking to buck a recent trend, as the away team in the UCSB-UH series has lost six straight matches. The last visitor to win a match between the two was UCSB back in 2013, as the Gauchos won a pair of late-season matches at the Sheriff Center. UCSB has won nine of the last 11 matchups overall against Hawaii.

• Scouting the Rainbow Warriors
The Rainbow Warriors are led by outside hitter Stijn van Tilburg who has a team-best 4.07 kills per set average on .348 hitting. They have two servers (Austin Matautia, Hendrik Mol) in the MPSF Top-10 for aces per set, and they lead the league with a team 8.89 digs per set average. Hawaii has won 11 straight matches at home, including a 7-0 mark in 2017.

• Hard Hitters
UCSB's team hitting percentage of .322 this seasons ranks seventh in the nation and fourth in the MPSF. Were the season to end today, that would be the best attack clip for the program since the 2011 squad that reached the National Championship (.325).

• Bright Future
Though the team only returned two starters from last season, the future looks bright for the Gauchos, as the coaching staff brought in the No. 5 ranked recruiting class this season. Three freshmen, middle Keenan Sanders and setters Casey McGarry and Randy DeWeese, have received heavy playing time already.

• Strong in the Middle
Though young, UCSB's starting middles have been a source of strength this season, especially on the attack. Sophomore Henri Cherry (.481) and freshman Keenan Sanders (.463) rank sixth and seventh, respectively, in the MPSF in overall hitting percentage. UCSB is the only team with two players in the top seven. Cherry has stepped up his game at the net lately as well, as he ranks third league-wide with a 1.29 blocks per set average in MPSF matches.

• Better Boehle-v It
UCSB has three brothers Boehle on the roster: senior Parker, junior Hayden, and freshman Davis. This is the first team in program history to have three brothers on the same team in one year. Parker, the starting libero, is fifth in the MPSF with a 2.15 digs per set average while starting outside Hayden Boehle is averaging 1.94 kills and 1.55 digs per set.