Gauchos Finish Road Trip With Tilts at Pepperdine, Stanford

Photo by Eric Isaacs
Photo by Eric Isaacs

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• The Schedule
Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 7:00 PM PT
No. 12 UCSB at No. 9 Pepperdine (4-3, 2-2)
at the Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu, Calif.
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Waves – 38-67 / Won 2
UCSB Streak / Last 10 – Lost 4 / 5-5
Pepp Streak / Last 10 – Lost 1 / 4-2

Saturday, Feb. 11 at 7:00 PM PT
No. 12 UCSB at No. 8 Stanford (6-4, 3-2)
at Maples Pavillion in Palo Alto, Calif.
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Cardinal – 49-33 / Won 3
UCSB Streak / Last 10 – Lost 2 / 6-3
Stanford Streak / Last 10 – Lost 2 / 6-4

• The Week in Review
The Gauchos opened a four-match road trip last weekend with a pair of losses to No. 5 Hawaii. The Gauchos put on a decent offensive showing, hitting .215 and .296 respectively, but UH's Stijn van Tilburg was a difference-maker with 39 kills on the weekend, an average of 5.6 per set. Jacob Delson (37 kills) and Corey Chavers (28 kills) were the top offensive performers for UCSB.

• Rank and File
After dropping both its matches last week, UCSB dropped one spot to No. 12 in this week's AVCA Men's Division I-II poll. Meanwhile, Stanford is ranked No. 8 in the country and Pepperdine is No. 9. UCSB is 0-5 this season against ranked opponents.

• 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 11 matches this season, including a career-high 23 kill performance against Hawaii last week. The Westlake Village, Calif. native has notched 20 or more kills on three separate occasions this season after entering the year with no 20+ kill performances in his career. His 4.38 kills per set rank third in the MPSF and fourth in the nation.

• 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 76-50 record (.603 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 has three opponents in common with Pepperdine and Stanford: McKendree, USC, and Cal Baptist. The Gauchos, Waves, and Cardinal each emerged victorious in their lone matchup against those foes. UCSB also shares Mt. Olive in common with Stanford, with both MPSF teams coming out ahead in those matches.

• 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.

• Career Nights
Despite ultimately losing in four sets, UCSB's two most prolific pin hitters set new career benchmarks on Saturday in Honolulu. OH Jacob Delson notched 23 kills from the left side, besting his previous career-high of 22 (set Jan. 18, 2017 vs. USC), while sophomore opposite Corey Chavers had 18 kills, four more than his previous best of 14 (also vs. USC on Jan. 18).

• 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 eighth in the MPSF with a 1.98 digs per set average while starting outside Hayden Boehle is averaging 1.94 kills and 1.53 digs per set.

• Efficiency in the Middle
UCSB is the only team in the MPSF to have three players in the top-15 conference-wide for hitting percentage. Sophomore Connor Drake leads the team with a .453 clip, good for sixth in the league. Freshman Keenan Sanders follows at .427 (12th) while sophomore Henri Cherry is at .419 (15th).

• Drake Takes Advantage
With starts in three straight matches, sophomore Connor Drake has taken advantage of his playing time. The Granite Bay native has notched 15 kills in those three matches on .600 hitting with 14 blocks, an average of 1.4 per set. He currently ranks sixth in the league in hitting percentage and second in blocking (1.14 per game).  

Oddity
UCSB's current four-match losing streak is the longest for the program since the 2013 season.