Men's Volley Returns to Rob Gym, Hosts Top-15 Foes LBSU and CSUN

Photo by Eric Isaacs
Photo by Eric Isaacs

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• The Schedule
Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 7:00 PM PT
No. 12 UCSB vs. No. 2 Long Beach State (11-2, 7-1 MPSF)
at Rob Gym
All-time Record / Streak vs. the 49ers – 50-46 / Lost 2
UCSB Streak / Last 10 – Lost 6 / 3-7
LBSU Streak / Last 10 – Won 4 / 8-2

Friday, Feb. 17 at 7:00 PM PT
No. 12 UCSB vs. No. 14 CSUN (9-5, 2-5 MPSF)
at Rob Gym
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Matadors – 52-40 / Won 3
UCSB Streak / Last 10 – Lost 6 / 3-7
CSUN Streak / Last 10 – Lost 2 / 5-5

• The Week in Review
The Gauchos finished off a season-long four-match road trip last week with a pair of tight losses to MPSF rivals Pepperdine and Stanford. Jacob Delson had 41 kills in the two matches while Connor Drake (21 kills, eight blocks) and Hayden Boehle (26 kills, 17 digs) also performed well. UCSB returns this week to Rob Gym, where they are 43-10 since the beginning of the 2014 season and 6-1 in 2017. 

• Rank and File
Despite dropping both its matches last week, UCSB stayed at No. 12 in this week's AVCA Men's Division I-II poll. Meanwhile, Long Beach State is ranked No. 2 in the country and CSUN is No. 14. UCSB is 0-7 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 13 matches this season, including a career-high 23 kill performance against Hawaii. The Westlake Village, Calif. native has notched 20 or more kills on four separate occasions this season after entering the year with no 20+ kill performances in his career. His 4.41 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 76-52 record (.594 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.

• 62 for McGarry
In UCSB's four-set loss to Pepperdine last week, freshman setter Casey McGarry recorded an astonishing 62 assists (15.5 per game). That is the most by a UCSB setter since Vince Devany had 63 on Feb. 3, 2011 against Hawai'i. It is also the most by any Gaucho freshman in the rally-scoring era and the most by any MPSF setter this season in a four-set match.  

• 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.

• Close Shave
Despite falling in both of its contests last week, UCSB was right in the thick of things in both matches. Of the team's nine sets last week, six were decided by two points and four went into extra points.

• Endurance Tested
The Gauchos' 43-41 win over Stanford in the second set on Saturday was the longest set for UCSB in the rally scoring era, the longest set in an MPSF match this season, and the longest of any MPSF match since 2008 (Pepperdine vs. LBSU). In that frame, UCSB survived 11 game points for Stanford, winning it on back-to-back blocks including a clinching solo block from Delson.

• 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 seventh in the MPSF with a 2.14 digs per set average while starting outside Hayden Boehle is averaging 2.13 kills and 1.60 digs per set.

• Drake Takes Advantage
With starts in five straight matches, sophomore Connor Drake has taken advantage of his playing time. The Granite Bay native has notched 36 kills in those five matches on .462 hitting with 22 blocks, an average of 1.2 per set. He currently ranks eighth in the league in blocking (1.07 per game) and ninth in hitting percentage (.441).

• The Middle
While Drake has been taking over lately, sophomore Henri Cherry was a mainstay early on, giving UCSB two of the best statistical blockers in the league. Cherry currently ranks ninth in the league in blocking (1.00 per set) and 10th in hitting percentage (.438), making UCSB the only MPSF team with two players in the top-10 in both those stats.