January 16, 2010

Gauchos Get First Victory of Season Over UC San Diego

Jan. 16, 2010

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif- - Jeff Menzel had 25 kills and Cullen Irons added 14 as the No. 14 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team picked up its first victory of the season against No. 11 UC San Diego, 3-2, in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play Saturday night at Robertson Gymnasium.

Game scores were 26-30, 30-24, 27-30, 30-27, 15-13 in favor of the Gauchos as they improved to 1-4 overall, 1-1 in the MPSF. UCSD is now 1-4 overall and 1-1 in MPSF play.

UCSB swung at a .329 clip on the night, connecting on 70 of their 140 total attacks with only 24 errors. Irons added a team-high nine digs to go along with his 14 kills. Blaine Nielsen went a perfect three-for-three hitting on the night, notching three aces in the process. Vince Devany dished out 63 assists.

Jason Spangler led the way for the Tritons with 15 kills and a .310 hitting average. Cyrus Kiani and Frank Fritsch also contributed double-digit kill totals with 12 and 11, respectively. Phil Bannan scooped a match-high 10 digs and swung at a perfect 1.000 rate (5-0-5).

In the fifth set, the teams traded points until consecutive kills from Scott Slaughter made it 8-6 in favor of the Gauchos. After the teams traded courts, kills by Bannan and Spangler would even the match at 9-9. UCSB would jump to a three-point lead on two hitting errors by the Tritons and a block from Sam Moisenco, making it 12-9.

A block from Menzel and a kill on a quickset from Moisenco brought the Gauchos to match point at 14-11. The Tritons would not go away easily, as they capitalized on a Gaucho serving error and a kill from Joel Davidson, making it 14-13.

On the ensuing play, Triton libero Chase Frishman kept an Irons attack attempt alive, sending the pass to Bannan. Bannan sent a high-floating ball along the left side for Fritsch, but Fritsch's attack was forced straight into the block of Nielsen and Slaughter, who sent the ball straight back into the Tritons' court for the 15-13 victory.

"It definitely feels like the monkey is off our back," said UCSB head coach Rick McLaughlin, "We've lost the past three times to that team and all three matches went to five sets, so to get this win is big."

Saturday's match marks the fourth time the Gauchos have gone to five sets this season. The Gauchos are now 1-3 in those contests.

In their first bout of the season, UC San Diego defeated UCSB in the seventh-place match of January 8th's Santa Barbara Invitational, 30-22, 30-28, 29-31, 26-30, and 15-11.

UCSB's next match is on Wednesday, January 20th at 7 pm in Rob Gym versus UCLA.