No. 13 UCSB Heads to Happy Valley for Pair of Non-Conference Matches

Photo by Eric Isaacs
Photo by Eric Isaacs

Full release in PDF format

• The Schedule
Friday, Mar. 3 at 4:30 PM PT
No. 13 UCSB vs. No. 15 Penn State (11-6)
at Rec Hall in University Park, Pa.
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Nittany Lions – 8-6 / Lost 1
UCSB Streak / Last 10 – Lost 1 / 2-8
PSU Streak / Last 10 – Won 2 / 8-2
Last time out: PSU 3-1 UCSB (3/11/2011)

Saturday, Mar 4 at 2:00 PM PT
No. 13 UCSB vs. Lees-McRae (5-9)
at Rec Hall in University Park, Pa.
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Bobcats – First meeting
UCSB Streak / Last 10 – Lost 1 / 2-8
LMC Streak / Last 10 – Won 1 / 3-7

• The Week Ahead
No. 13 UC Santa Barbara takes a break from MPSF action this week, traveling to Pennsylvania for a pair of non-conference showdowns against Penn State and Conference Carolinas-member Lees-McRae.

• The Week in Review
UCSB split its two matches last week, comfortably sweeping UC San Diego on Friday to break a seven-match skid before falling in a five-set heartbreaker to No. 7 UC Irvine the next night. Jacob Delson had an 11 kill-12 dig double-double to lead the Gauchos over the Tritons, while Keenan Sanders added nine kills on 13 swings. UCSB held UCSD under .100 hitting in each frame, and pulled off 7-0 runs in the first two games. 34 kills from Delson against UCI wasn't enough, as the Anteaters shook off one UCSB match point in the fourth set and two match points in the fifth to complete the comeback. Three of the five sets against UCI required extra points, and four of five were decided by two points.

• Rank and File
With its 1-1 week, UCSB stayed at No. 13 in this week's AVCA Men's Division I-II poll. Meanwhile, Penn State checked in at No. 15 in the poll, while Lees-McRae went unranked.

• Historic Performance for Delson
Delson's 34 kills in a five-set loss to UC Irvine last week was notable for a variety of reasons. The Westlake, Calif. native recorded the most kills and most points of any MPSF player in a single match this season, and he became just the second Gaucho to hit the 34-kill plateau in the Rick McLaughlin era (since 2008) and the first since Jeff Menzel (Feb. 12, 2010 vs. Long Beach State). Delson now ranks second in the MPSF and in the nation with a 4.43 kills per set average, which would be the eighth-highest in UCSB rally scoring history were the season to end today.

• Non-Conference, No Problem
UCSB has thrived in out-of-league competition since the beginning of 2015, sporting a 13-3 record over that span (.813 winning percentage). The Gauchos are 40-19 against non-conference foes all-time under Rick McLaughlin.

• 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.

• 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.

• Huge Week for Sanders
Keenan Sanders, a freshman middle, was arguably UCSB's top performer last week, earning him a nomination as the MPSF Player of the Week. He hit .563 (23-5-32) for the week, including a career-best 14 kill performance on .632 hitting against UC Irvine. He started the week with nine kills on just 13 swings with a career-high-tying four blocks at UCSD. Sanders ranks eighth overall in the MPSF this season with a .421 hitting percentage.

• 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.

• Hello Again
This is UCSB's first trip to Rec Hall since playing there for the 2011 National Championship match, a five-set loss to Ohio State. Current Gaucho assistants Cullen Irons and Vince Devany were starters on that 2011 squad at opposite and setter, respectively.

• In the Trenches
With just five matches remaining in conference play in 2017, UCSB finds itself battling with three others schools for the final two spots in the MPSF Tournament. Pepperdine and CSUN (both 4-6 in MPSF play) find themselves in playoff position heading into the weekend, while USC (5-8) is one game ahead of UCSB in the standings. The Gauchos have one match remaining against both USC and CSUN, making those arguably the two most important matches for the rest of the year.

• Strong Week at the Net for Drake
Though Sanders had a great week on the offensive side, sophomore middle blocker Connor Drake put up some impressive numbers at the net, totaling 15 blocks for the week. He tied a career-high with two solo blocks in three sets against UCSD, then tied another career best with eight total roofs against the Anteaters. That huge week moved Drake up to No. 2 in the MPSF in blocking at 1.23 per game.

• Can You Dig It?
Two-year starting libero Parker Boehle has been consistent as can be this season, notching over 2.0 digs per set in 11 of 16 matches this season. He ranks fifth in the league with a 2.18 digs per set average for the 2017 season.