Gauchos Travel South for Key Matchups at UC San Diego, UC Irvine

Photo by Eric Isaacs
Photo by Eric Isaacs

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• The Schedule
Friday, Feb. 24 at 7:00 PM PT
No. 13 UCSB vs. UC San Diego (5-9, 2-7 MPSF)
at the RIMAC Arena in La Jolla, Calif.
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Tritons – 37-8 / Won 8
UCSB Streak / Last 10 – Lost 7 / 3-7
UCSD Streak / Last 10 – Lost 4 / 5-5
Last time out: UCSB 3-0 UCSD (1/11/17 @ UCSB)

Saturday, Feb. 25 at 5:00 PM PT
No. 13 UCSB vs. No. 7 UC Irvine (9-5, 6-4 MPSF)
at the Bren Events Center in Irvine, Calif.
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Anteaters – 46-29 / Lost 1
UCSB Streak / Last 10 – Lost 7 / 3-7
UCI Streak / Last 10 – Won 1 / 5-5
Last time out: UCI 3-2 UCSB (1/13/17 @ UCSB)

• The Week in Review
The Gauchos played just one match last week, dropping a three-set decision to No. 2 Long Beach State. The loss was UCSB's seventh in a row, all against top-10 opponents. Hayden Boehle had nine kills, becoming the first Gaucho this year not named Jacob Delson to lead the team in kills. UCSB's scheduled game against CSUN on Friday was canceled and rescheduled for Mar. 8 due to a closure on the 101 freeway.  

• Rank and File
With its one loss last week, UCSB dropped to No. 13 in this week's AVCA Men's Division I-II poll. Meanwhile, UC Irvine is ranked No. 7 and UC San Diego received votes in the poll.

• 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 13 of 14 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 4.25 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 76-53 record (.59 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.

• Through the Quad and Into the Gymnasium
UCSB has won eight straight and nine out of 10 against UC San Diego, the program's longest current winning streak against any extant Division I-II squad. UCSD's last win against UCSB came all the way back in 2013. Conversely, the Gauchos have won just once in their last 12 matchups against UC Irvine dating back to 2010, with the lone victory taking place in 2016.

• 62 for McGarry
In UCSB's four-set loss to Pepperdine earlier this month, 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.

• Endurance Tested
The Gauchos' 43-41 win over Stanford in the second set earlier this month 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 eighth in the MPSF with a 2.12 digs per set average while starting outside Hayden Boehle is averaging 2.19 kills and 1.60 digs per set.

• Drake Takes Advantage
With starts in six straight matches, sophomore Connor Drake has taken advantage of his playing time. The Granite Bay native has notched 36 kills in those six matches on .448 hitting with 23 blocks, an average of 1.2 per set. He currently ranks seventh in the league in blocking (1.06 per game) and eighth in hitting percentage (.432).

• 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 (1.02 per set) and 11th in hitting percentage (.417), making UCSB the only MPSF team with two players in the top-11 in both those stats.