March 11, 2009
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Jeff Menzel pounded a career-high 32 kills as No. 13 UC Santa Barbara overcame non-conference opponent George Mason 3-2 Wednesday. The two teams traded a pair of sets as scores went 30-26, 30-26, 26-30, 22-30, and 15-13 at Robertson Gymnasium.
UCSB (6-12) had not faced George Mason (8-6) since 1996. The Gauchos are now 6-0 all-time against the Patriots, who hail from the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association, the same conference in which Penn State, the reigning national champion, resides.
It was just the second win for the Gauchos in six matches that have gone to five sets this season.
"The most important thing is that we were able to get out of it with a win," said UCSB head coach Rick McLaughlin. "I think being in [this position] enough is what is kind of helping us."
Menzel had two aces, seven digs, and four blocks to go along with his 32 kills. Jake Rosener and Trey Valbuena had 13 and 11 kills, respectively and Valbuena collected a double-double with 10 digs. Andy McGuire had a team-high 11 digs as the Gauchos held a 55-45 advantage in that department.
UCSB was without the services of middle blocker Scott Slaughter, who was sidelined due to an ankle injury. Slaughter had started all 17 matches prior to tonight. His replacement, Matt Thobe, posted a career-high seven kills and hit .500 with just one error in 12 attempts. He also contributed with three aces, four digs, and four blocks.
"Matt did a great job," said McLaughlin. "He served great. He attacked great. I think that we gained a little bit with his serve in there. But, we definitely missed Scott, no doubt about it."
The Patriots were led by Kyle Gramit with 26 kills and Lance Rogers with 10. Rogers had 10 blocks and Ryan Kwiatkowski had eight as George Mason out-blocked UCSB 17.5 to 8.0. Eric Lucas led all players with 15 digs.
UCSB hosts 11th-ranked MPSF foe UCLA on Friday, Mar. 13 (7 p.m.). This will be a Santa Barbara News-Press Kids to College match and all youths eighth grade and under will be admitted free! Tickets are available one hour prior to the start of the match at Robertson Gymnasium.
**UCSB - a nationally recognized university in both academic and athletic excellence - is located on the central coast of California in a picturesque campus and community setting on the Pacific Ocean. Each year over 450 NCAA Division I Gaucho student-athletes compete for national championships, succeed in the classroom, and give back to the community.**
- UCSBgauchos.com -