Volleyball Wraps Up Season at Home Against Long Beach State and UC San Diego

Volleyball Wraps Up Season at Home Against Long Beach State and UC San Diego

April 8, 2008

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The Schedule
Friday, April 11, 7 p.m.
No. 14 UCSB vs. No. 4 Long Beach State
Robertson Gymnasium
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Radio Broadcast: KCSB 91.9 FM
Online Audio Broadcast: KCSB.org
Gametracker: UCSBGauchos.com

Saturday, April 12, 7 p.m.
No. 14 UCSB vs. UC San Diego
Robertson Gymnasium
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Online Audio Broadcast: KCSB.org
Gametracker: UCSBGauchos.com

Against Long Beach State
Last Meeting: 3/1/08 at LBSU Result: LBSU 3, UCSB 2 (30-27, 30-28, 28-30, 25-30, 15-13)
2008 Series: LBSU leads 1-0
2007 Series: UCSB led 2-0
All-Time Series Record: UCSB leads 43-33
Last UCSB Win: 2/17/07 at UCSB
Result: UCSB 3, LBSU 0 (30-19, 30-28, 30-19)
Current Streak: LBSU one win

Against UC San Diego
Last Meeting: 2/29/08 at UCSD
Result: UCSD 3, UCSB 0 (30-27, 30-22, 30-24)
2008 Series: UCSD leads 1-0
2007 Series: UCSB led 2-0
All-Time Series Record: UCSB leads 22-2
Last UCSB Win: 2/15/07 at UCSB
Result: UCSB 3, UCSD 0 (30-21, 30-19, 30-27)
Current Streak: UCSD one win

KCSB Gets in on the Action
KCSB 91.9 FM and KCSB.org will be broadcasting UCSB's final two regular season matches: Friday, Apr. 11 vs. Long Beach State (radio and online), and Saturday, Apr. 12 against UC San Diego (online only).

Track the Matches Online
For the first time ever, UCSB men's volleyball matches can be followed live online with Gametracker. All home matches and select road contests will be included. Just log on to UCSBGauchos.com, go to the men's volleyball schedule, and click on the Gametracker link for the match you're interested in. You can follow each point, keep track of player statistics, and view player bios. Gametracker is free of charge and works on PCs and Macs. Make sure you have Java installed and enabled.

Good Night and Good Luck
Saturday's match against UC San Diego will mark the final career contest for UCSB head coach Ken Preston, who is retiring following his 30th year at the helm of the Gaucho program. Since taking over the team in 1979, Preston has posted a 515-380 record (entering this week), good for a .575 winning percentage. The Gauchos have posted 19 winning seasons and qualified for postseason play 21 times during Preston's tenure. The 1988 season proved to be one of Preston's best as UCSB advanced to the National Championship game for the first time in 13 years. The Gauchos went up two games to none, but ended up losing the title to USC in five sets. More recently, Preston had a banner year in 2007. He recorded his 500th career victory at IPFW in early March and the Gauchos went on to finish with a 20-12 overall record and placed fourth in the MPSF with a 14-8 mark. It was the first time since 1989 that UCSB collected 20 wins and the first time since 1996 that it reached 14 league victories. Santa Barbara defeated rival UCLA in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals before losing to Pepperdine in the semis. Two of Preston's standouts, middle Theo Brunner and opposite Evan Patak, were named AVCA First Team All-Americans. In fact, Preston's squads have produced 27 all-American picks and 47 All-MPSF selections. Prior to coaching at UCSB, Preston served as head coach at Cal Poly and Wright State in Dayton, Ohio. He was also the interim head coach of the Westmont women's volleyball program for two years. Preston also holds extensive experience on the national and international scenes. He has served in various capacities for the U.S. National Team, at several World University Games, World Championships, and Pan American Games.

Good Night and Good Luck the Sequel
Saturday's match will be the final career tilt for four Gauchos including libero Ben Brockman (San Diego), middle blocker Theo Brunner (Ridgefield, Conn.), and outside hitters Mike Fisher (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Phil Mathews (Hillsborough, Calif.). Brunner and Fisher have played for four years, while both Brockman and Mathews redshirted in 2004 and neither saw any floor time in 2005.

Gauchos Eliminated from Postseason With 3-0 Loss vs. UC Irvine
For the first time since 2003, UCSB will not be advancing to postseason play. The Gauchos' hopes were dashed Apr. 5 as they were officially eliminated from extra matches after suffering a 3-0 loss against reigning national champion UC Irvine at Robertson Gymnasium. Scores of the match went 32-30, 30-27, and 30-20 in favor of UC Irvine clinched a spot in the top eight of the league standings with the victory. It was the fourth loss in a row for UCSB. The Anteaters hit an impressive .429 for the match and got 15 kills apiece out of Jordan DuFault and Jon Steller. Aaron Harrell finished with a match-high five blocks, while libero Brent Asuka totaled a match-best eight digs. Setter Anthony Spittle had 45 assists. UCSB got a match-high 16 kills from freshman opposite Jeff Menzel, but he was the lone Gaucho with double-figure kill totals. Mike Runkle had eight kills, hit .471, and added five digs. Scott Slaughter hit a team-best .556 with six kills and one error in nine swings. Freshman setter Vince DeVany picked up 34 assists in the loss. The Gauchos hit .300 as a team, but Irvine hit well over that mark in all three games. The last time Santa Barbara did not make it to at least the MPSF Tournament Play-In match was in 2003 when the Gauchos placed ninth following the regular season.

Gauchos Lose in Four Games at UCLA, Bruins Earn Postseason Berth
Four Gauchos had 12 or more kills but a pair of Bruins out-did them as UCLA took a 3-1 victory over UCSB Apr. 2 at Pauley Pavilion. The victory secured the Bruins a spot in April's MPSF Tournament. Scores of the match were 29-31, 30-21, 30-24, and 33-31. Garrett Muagututia smashed a match-high 26 kills and hit .600, while Sean O'Malley was just behind with 25 kills and a .400 attack percentage for the Bruins. Muagututia was un-stoppable, adding a match-high 11 digs to complete his double-double. He also added a pair of service aces, two solo blocks, and a match-best 30 points. D.J. Stromath had 11 kills and three aces for UCLA, while setter Kevin Ker racked up 70 assists. Four Bruins hit better than .400 and they finished at .413 for the match. UCSB swung at .285 and was led by Mike Runkle and Theo Brunner, with 14 kills each. Phil Mathews had 12 kills and Jeff Menzel finished with 10. Runkle led the Gauchos with 17 points as he had two aces and two block assists. Santa Barbara defeated UCLA 3-1 on Feb. 20 at Rob Gym, so the regular season series goes in the books as a split.

The Playoff Picture
The top eight finishers in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings advance to the postseason with No. 7 taking on No. 8 in a play-in to the MPSF Tournament. With two regular season matches remaining for all teams, the final standings have not shaken out yet, but all eight postseason spots have been filled. Long Beach State, Brigham Young, Cal State Northridge, UCLA, Pepperdine, Stanford, UC Irvine, and USC will play after the regular season ends. Long Beach, BYU, and Northridge have claimed at least a three seed and will host a quarterfinal match. The regular season champion will enjoy a quarterfinal round bye. Hawai'i, Pacific, UCSB, and UCSD have all been eliminated. The last time Santa Barbara did not make it to at least the MPSF Tournament Play-In match was in 2003 when the Gauchos placed ninth following the regular season.

The Standings Picture
At 6-14, UCSB sits in 10th place, tied with UC San Diego. Hawai'i is holding ninth place at 7-13. UCSB hosts Long Beach Friday, UC San Diego plays at Northridge Friday, and Hawai'i is at Pepperdine Friday and Saturday. Santa Barbara is still alive to move up a spot and finish the year in ninth. The last time the Gauchos placed ninth was in 2003 and they have never finished worse than ninth since the MPSF moved to one division in that year.

Not Liking Kerouac's Work Too Much
Thankfully, UCSB's final two matches are at home. The Gauchos cannot be a fan of Kerouac's "On the Road" this season. The Gauchos are a miserly 1-8 playing away from Robertson Gymnasium. Their lone road win came against Pacific on Feb. 9 in Stockton. Santa Barbara is 8-8 at home.

You're On the List
As a team, UCSB has broken into a couple of school single match top ten lists this year. The Gauchos' 17 service aces against Pacific on Jan. 5 is the most in the history of the program. The previous high was 16, set against Hawai'i in 1991. In addition, Santa Barbara posted 80 digs in the Feb. 1 match vs. Hawai'i in Honolulu. That number ranks fourth all-time for a single match.

Injuries Up the Middle
Even with middle blocker Scott Slaughter returning to the lineup recently, the Gauchos are still without middle Sam Moisenco, who up until last week was nationally-ranked in blocks per game. Moisenco last played on Feb. 29 at UC San Diego and has missed the team's last eight matches due to a left ankle injury. Prior to the injury, he was averaging 1.5 kills and 2.3 points per game. He still leads the team with 1.3 blocks per game and is third in total blocks with 52.

Thobe or Not Thobe
Keeping with the middle blocker theme, Matt Thobe had a solid second match at BYU on Mar. 29 after not playing the night before. He tied a career-high with six kills and set a new personal best by hitting a perfect 1.000 (6-0-6). Thobe played in all four games at Cal State Northridge on Mar. 5. The junior estabished new career-highs with six kills, seven blocks, and 9.5 points. He also hit .455 with only one miscue in 11 swings. Thobe did not see any action in 2007 and played in just 17 games as a redshirt freshman in 2006. This season, he's contributed in 14 matches and 30 games.

Double S Returns to the Lineup
Redshirt freshman middle blocker Scott Slaughter played against Cal Baptist on Mar. 25 after missing the previous seven contests due to an elbow injury. The last time Slaughter had seen floor time was on Feb. 15 vs. UC Santa Cruz. He made the most of his return to the starting lineup, posting a triplet of career-highs including kills (9), blocks (7), and points (14.5). He also hit .727 (9-1-11) while adding an assist, an ace, and a pair of digs. For the year, he's averaging 1.8 kills, 2.53 points, and almost one block per game.

Give Me a Brock, Man
Senior Ben Brockman spent most of last season as the starting libero for UCSB. This year, redshirt freshman Andy McGuire started at libero in UCSB's first 16 matches. However, Brockman has gotten the starting nod in the team's last nine contests. He kicked off his play with 17 digs at Long Beach State on Mar. 1 and followed that with 13 more at Northridge on Mar. 5. Since he's been starting, Brockman has averaged 2.4 digs per game over 32 games.

True freshman setter Vince DeVany got his first career start at Long Beach State on Mar. 1 and he didn't disappoint. Devany recorded a pair of career-highs with 60 assists and eight digs in the five-game match. He has now started at setter in UCSB's last nine matches. Originally scheduled to redshirt the season, he got his first collegiate playing time on Jan. 26 vs. Pacific. He recorded his first career kill on his first career attempt in the match and added four assists in the win. Devany and Jeff Menzel are the only true freshmen to play this season for the Gauchos. Ben Douglas, Blaine Nielsen, Jordan Nuni, Jake Scalise, and Alex Williams are redshirting the season.

The Man in the Irons Mask
Redshirt freshman Cullen Irons produced some career numbers in the Long Beach State match on Mar. 1. He collected six kills and five blocks, both career-bests. Irons hit 1.000 and added an assist, an ace, and 9.5 points. More recently, he totaled a career-best four digs against Pepperdine on Mar. 15.

Opposites Attract
True freshman Jeff Menzel has been the go-to guy on the UCSB attack. The opposite has led the Gauchos in swings in 21 of 25 matches and has 911 attack attempts this season, 380 more than the next Gaucho on the list. With an average of 4.67 kills per game, Menzel is ranked fourth in the MPSF and seventh nationally. He also ranks fifth in the league and eighth in the nation with 5.31 points per game. Menzel has recorded 10 or more kills in all but two matches and 20 or more nine times. He's had 30 or more swings in 19 matches.

Brunner Banter
Middle blocker Theo Brunner recorded the 1,000th kill of his career earlier this season, becoming just the 10th Gaucho in school history to reach the mark. He has had 10 or more kills in 23 matches played, including a career-high 26 at Long Beach State (3/1). He also had a career-best 28.5 points in that match. Brunner also set a new career-high this season with eight digs at UC Irvine (1/4) and tied a career-best with eight blocks on two occasions, the first at Pacific (2/9) and the second at UC Irvine (2/23). The 2007 All-American is averaging 3.5 kills, 4.1 points, and just under one block per game.

Gauchos Pick Up Four During Fall Signing Period
UCSB picked up four high school seniors during the 2007 fall signing period. Outside hitters Grant Goswiller, Mark Liebermann, and Matt Townsend, as well as middle blocker/opposite Jake Piva will don the blue and gold for the 2009 season. Goswiller, a 6-foot-3 outside, hails from Coto de Caza, Calif. and Tesoro High School. He has also played club ball for Balboa Bay and OC Riptides. Goswiller was an all-tournament selection at the 2007 Junior Olympics (17 Open) in Atlanta. Outside of volleyball, he was a member of the Lionsheart Community Service Club and the Invisible Children's Club. In the classroom, Goswiller was a three-year Presidential Honor Roll member. Liebermann is from Newport Beach, Calif. and Newport Harbor High School. The 6-foot-5 outside was part of a Balboa Bay Volleyball Club squad that took first place at the 2007 Holiday Classic. Piva, a 6-foot-8 middle/opposite, is from Valencia, Calif. and won a CIF title with Valencia High School, a perennial powerhouse in the Foothill League. With Santa Monica Beach Club, he won a 2007 title in the Open Division and has twice been named all-tourney at Junior Olympics. Townsend is from Granada Hills, Calif. and plays for Chaminade College Prep. A four-year letterwinner, the 6-foot-4 outside has garnered First Team All-Mission League honors. In 2007, he was a member of the Southern California Volleyball Association Regional Team that competed at the Slovenia Global Challenge. Townsend won gold at the 2007 Junior Olympics (17 Open) and silver at the 2006 JOs (16 Open).

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