No. 4 UCSB Hosts No. 3 BYU in MPSF Offensive Showdown

No. 4 UCSB Hosts No. 3 BYU in MPSF Offensive Showdown

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March 7, 2007

The Schedule
Friday, March 9, 7 p.m.
No. 4 UCSB vs. No. 3 BYU
Robertson Gymnasium
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Saturday, March 10, 7 p.m.
No. 4 UCSB vs. No. 3 BYU
Robertson Gymnasium
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Against Brigham Young
Last Meeting: 1/21/06 at BYU
Result: BYU 3, UCSB 0 (30-24, 30-28, 30-24)
2007 Series: First meeting
2006 Series: BYU led 2-0
All-Time Series Record: BYU leads 21-17
Last UCSB Win: 4/23/05 at BYU (MPSF Tournament)
Result: UCSB 3, BYU 2 (30-25, 30-21, 29-31, 23-30, 15-13)
Current Streak: BYU two wins

Preston Nets 500th Win as Gauchos Complete Sweep of IPFW
UCSB head coach Ken Preston recorded his 500th career victory March 3 as the Gauchos rode the rush of a huge game two win to sweep IPFW at the Hilliard Gates Sports Center. It was the second win in as many days for UCSB over the non-conference opponent. After winning the first game 30-23, the Gauchos captured a marathon second set by the score of 39-37. Game number three was a bit more tame as UCSB finished off the Mastodons 30-18. Preston, in his 29th season at the helm of the program, holds a career record of 500-358 (.583) since taking the reigns in 1979. From the opening serve, UCSB sprinted out of the gate for a 9-1 lead. IPFW drew to within one on a number of occasions, but couldn't manage to take the lead. Leading 16-15, the Gauchos went on an 8-2 run, highlighted by a pair of kills from opposite Evan Patak. Middle David Kennedy finished off the game with a kill off an assist from setter Bart Kowalski. Game two was an epic struggle. IPFW had game point in hand, but a service error tied it at 30. Tied at 33-33, Patak put a ball to the floor to give UCSB a game-point. IPFW fought it off on a kill by junior outside hitter C.J. Macias. The Mastodons held a game-point at 37-36, but outside Michael Fisher tied it with a kill. From there, it was a kill from middle Theo Brunner and an IPFW attack error that gave the Gauchos game two. The loss took the wind out of the Mastodons and the 1,345 in attendance. UCSB cruised to the set three win with most of the starters on the sideline. Patak put down a match-high 15 kills for the Gauchos. Fisher added 11 as UCSB hit .371 in the match. Libero Ben Brockman had a match-co-high 11 digs and Kowalski ended the night with 45 assists and five blocks. Macias was the only `Don to hit in double figures with 10 kills. Freshman libero Matt Pliske led the Mastodon defensive effort with 11 digs. IPFW out-blocked UCSB for the second straight match as it held a 12.0-8.5 advantage.

Gauchos Take Out IPFW in Three
Evan Patak powered UCSB past IPFW in three games March 2 in non-conference action at the Hilliard Gates Sports Center. The victory snapped a three-match losing slide for the Gauchos, while the Mastodons suffered their third consecutive defeat. UCSB won by scores of 30-21, 30-27, and 34-32. Patak finished with a match-co-high 16 kills and collected seven of UCSB's nine service aces. It was the fourth time this year that Patak, who leads the nation in aces, totaled seven un-returnable serves. UCSB middle Theo Brunner posted 10 kills, libero Tyson Norton had a match-high 10 digs, and middle David Kennedy stuffed five balls at the net. Setter Bart Kowalski racked up 43 assists in the win. Patak broke open a close game one with a four-point service rotation which included three aces and a kill by Michael Fisher. The Gauchos hit .471 in the game, the highest total of the night for both squads. In game two, the Mastodons opened up a 10-7 lead but couldn't hold on. It was Patak again with another three-ace service rotation that gave the Gauchos a 23-22 advantage. IPFW fought off two game points with kills from C.J. Macias and Josh Collins, but Kennedy put down the final kill for UCSB to take a 2-0 lead. IPFW looked poised to run away with the third game after a Macias kill made it 23-14 in favor of the Mastodons. However, Kowalski was able to rattle off five straight points on serve to pull the Gauchos to within two at 29-27. Patak and Kennedy registered kills to tie it at 29-29. UCSB head coach Ken Preston made a late substitution, bringing in outside hitter Aaron Richman. Richman only had two kills in the match, but they gave the Gauchos leads of 32-31 and 33-32. Patak put the final nail in the coffin with his 16th kill of the contest on match point. IPFW was led by Macias with 16 kills. Josh Stewart had eight kills and eight block assists as the Mastodons held a 17-9 advantage in blocks.

UCSB Upset at Cal State Northridge
Despite a slew of match-high numbers from Evan Patak, UCSB was upset 3-1 by Cal State Northridge Feb. 28 at The Matadome. The Gauchos, who lost a season-long three-straight matches, came out strong by hitting .444 in the first game to take a 30-23 victory. However, the Matadors, who snapped a two-match losing skid, regrouped to take the next three games by scores of 30-23, 30-27, and 30-26. Patak totaled 27 kills, six service aces, eight digs, and five blocks, all match-highs. Dan Rhodes led the Matadors with a season-high 25 kills. Patak hit a team-best .489 in the loss. Bryan Berman finished with nine kills and seven digs, while Theo Brunner and David Kennedy each put down eight kills. Setter Bart Kowalski totaled 34 assists. Rhodes also had three aces, five digs, and one block in the win. Eric Vance knocked down 16 kills and Kyle Waite added eight kills. Sean Pedersen recorded 51 assists, five kills, five digs, and three blocks and libero Ali'i Keohohou came up with a match-co-high eight digs. Northridge out-hit Santa Barbara .430 to .378 for the match and hit .500 or better in games three and four. UCSB held an 8.0 to 6.0 advantage in blocks. Both teams struggled from the service line with CSUN committing 27 errors and UCSB muffing 24.

Cat Chat
Brigham Young enters the week with a 13-4 overall record and is in third place in the MPSF with a 9-3 mark. The Cougars have won their last four matches (Hawai'i and USC), snapping a four-match losing streak after starting the season 9-0. Their losses have come against UC Irvine, Cal Baptist, and Pepperdine (2). BYU swept this week's individual honors as opposite Yosleyder Cala was named the AVCA National Player of the Week and freshman opposite Robby Stowell was tabbed the MPSF Player of the Week. The Cougars are second in the MPSF with a hitting percentage of .355, just behind UCSB at .360. They lead the conference in kills per game at 16.14, just ahead of UCSB at 16.11. Setter Yamil Perez leads the league (13.66) and is third in the nation (13.48) in assists.

Preston Joins Half-Grand Club
With a 3-0 sweep at IPFW March 3, UCSB head coach Ken Preston collected his 500th career victory. Preston holds an overall record of 500-358 (.583) since taking over the reigns in 1979. Preston has 18 winning seasons under his belt, including eight campaigns with 20 or more victories. He is UCSB's second active coach to eclipse the 500-win plateau at the school. Hall of Famer Kathy Gregory, who just completed her 32nd year as head coach of the women's volleyball program, picked up her 500th career win in 1995. Women's basketball coach Mark French has 500+ career wins, but not all have come at UCSB.

Poll Position
Here's a week-by-week look at where UCSB has stood in the AVCA Coaches Poll this season:
•March 5 - 4th; •Feb. 26 - 4th; •Feb. 19 - 3rd; •Feb. 12 - T 3rd; •Feb. 5 - 4th; •Jan. 29 - 3rd; •Jan. 22 - 4th; •Jan. 15 - 6th; •Jan. 8 - 6th; •Preseason - 6th.
The Gauchos have been ranked second, their highest-ever, on two occasions in the AVCA poll, most recently on Jan. 23, 2001.

On the National Front
Gauchos among the national statistics leaders (all matches):
•Theo Brunner: 4th in hitting (.507)
•David Kennedy: 12th in hitting (.432)
•Bart Kowalski: 8th in assists per game (12.98)
•Evan Patak: 1st in aces per game (1.164), 1st in points per game (7.34), 4th in kills per game (5.77)
•UCSB: 2nd in hitting (.360)

In the MPSF
Gauchos among the MPSF statistics leaders (MPSF matches only):
•Bryan Berman: 9th in aces per game (0.29)
•Ben Brockman: 7th in digs per game (2.14)
•Theo Brunner: 2nd in hitting (.502)
•David Kennedy: 5th in hitting (.442)
•Bart Kowalski: 4th in assists per game (12.73)
•Evan Patak: 1st in aces per game (1.19), 1st in points per game (7.60), 2nd in kills per game (5.96)
•UCSB: 1st in hitting (.360), 1st in aces per game (1.98), 2nd in kills per game (16.11), 2nd in assists per game (15.14), 3rd in digs per game (9.21), 9th in blocks per game (2.61)

Double-Double with Cheese
Three Gauchos have recorded a total of five double-doubles this season:
•Evan Patak (2): 32 kills, 17 digs at Hawai'i (2/8); 40 kills, 13 digs at Pacific (1/12)
•Aaron Richman (2): 10 kills, 10 digs at UCLA (2/23); 14 kills, 10 digs vs. Cal State Northridge (1/6)
•Armen Zakarian (1): 11 kills, 10 digs vs. Cal State Northridge (1/6)

Grand Attendance
For the Pepperdine match on Feb. 3, UCSB's Robertson Gymnasium hosted 1,068 fans. It was the highest attendance figure since 1,422 packed in on Jan. 27, 2001 vs. Stanford. The attendance record for a UCSB match is 4,310 against UCLA on April 22, 1983 in the Thunderdome. The Robertson Gymnasium record is 2,935 vs. UCLA on April 12, 1997.

UCSB Inks Four During Early Signing Period
UCSB received National Letters of Intent from four high school seniors during the NCAA's early signing period in November. Ben Douglas (Mountain View, Calif.), Jeff Menzel (Santa Barbara, Calif.), Blaine Nielsen (Corona del Mar, Calif.), and Jake Scalise (San Marcos, Calif.) committed to play for the Gauchos in 2008. Douglas is a 6'6" outside hitter from Mountain View High School. A member of the Spartans' varsity team since he was a freshman, Douglas is in his fourth year with the Bay to Bay Volleyball Club. Menzel is a local standout from San Marcos High School. The 6'5" opposite/outside hitter is a two-time All-CIF honoree and a 2006 All-Channel League First Team member. A versatile athlete, Menzel is also a first team all-league basketball player and a wide receiver on the Royals' football team. Menzel's sister, Erica, played for the Gauchos' women's squad from 2000-03 and was a two-time All-Big West First Team pick as well as an all-region selection in 2002. Nielsen is a 6'4" outside hitter out of Corona del Mar High School. A 2006 All-Pacific Coast League selection, Nielsen captained the Sea Kings to a league title and a second place finish in CIF Division II. In 2005, Corona del Mar won the CIF crown. At the club level, Nielsen captained Balboa Bay to Junior Olympics bronze medals in 2005 and 2006. Scalise is a 6'2" outside hitter from Mission Hills High School of the Division II Valley League. An all-league first team and San Diego County all-section pick, Scalise was also tabbed Mission Hills' MVP. An excellent student, he is a two-time member of the league's all-academic team.