Gauchos Fall to Long Beach State
March 2, 2011
The fourth-ranked Gauchos had a rough Wednesday night, having to move their home gym before falling to the Long Beach State 49ers in 4 sets. Game scores were 25-21, 23-25, 25-17, 25-23. For the Gauchos, it was only the second time all season that they lost back to back games. The 49ers handed the Gauchos that loss as well after they fell to UC Irvine the match before. Tonight's loss dropped UCSB's record to 10-8, 8-7. Long Beach State improved their record to 9-6, 8-4.
Forced to play at UCSB's Recreation Center due to a leak in the Rob Gym roof, the Gauchos were led by senior middle blocker Scott Slaughter. Scott finished the night with an even dozen kills on a .450 hitting percentage, and was leading the Gauchos in kills until the fourth game. Scott also had a match-high five blocks. Also having strong attacking nights were sophomore middle blocker Dylan Davis (seven kills, match-high .538 hitting percentage) and senior outside hitter Trey Valbuena (nine kills, .412 hitting percentage).
Senior setter Vince Devany racked up a match-high 45 assists on the night. Vince, the MPSF leader in total assists, has reached 40 or more assists in his past seven matches. Senior libero Andy McGuire finished with 15 digs, his third straight double-digit dig match.
The Gauchos put up a tough fight despite not receiving the best games from their go-to attackers, senior outside hitter Jeff Menzel and senior opposite Cullen Irons. Though Jeff had a match high 15 kills, he also hit just .122 and was pulled at the end of the third set in favor of freshman libero Evan Mottram. Irons finished the night with a season low -.077 hitting percentage, his lowest of the year. Cullen failed to finish with 10 or more kills for the first time in 12 matches.
Contrary to what has common been the case for the Gauchos, UCSB came out flat in the first set. They hit just .240 as a team, compared to .407 for Long Beach. It was just the sixth time the Gauchos have dropped the first set the entire season. The Gauchos were able to claim the second half on the back of Slaughter's strong quick hits.
The night was all downhill from there for the Gauchos, who posted only 17 points in the third game. The Gauchos seemed uncoordinated at times- late in the set Devany set a ball that nobody moved to attack, and Menzel and McGuire had a communication breakdown in having a late serve from Long Beach fall in between them. The fourth set was a tight one, including 11 ties and five lead changes, but the Gauchos were unable to claw back to force a fifth game.
"They're a really good team," said UCSB Head Coach Rick McLaughlin, "probably the best team we've played in a while. They're on a real good roll right now. But I don't think we played that poorly, if we have this effort against CSUN on Friday night we should be alright."
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