No. 5 UCSB Heads to Conference Final Four, Take on LBSU

April 27, 2011


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• The Schedule
Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 5 p.m.
at USC's Galen Center in Los Angeles, Calif.
No. 5 UC Santa Barbara (15-14, 11-11)
at No. 3 Long Beach State University (15-13, 12-10)
Series record vs. the 49ers- 44-38
Streak- Lost 2
2010 Series- Tied 1-1
2011 Series- LBSU 2-0
Last time out vs. the 49ers- L, 3-1

MPSF Championship Match
Saturday, April 30, 2011 at 7 p.m.
at USC's Galen Center in Los Angeles, Calif.
Winner of (7)UC Santa Barbara at (6)Long Beach State University
vs winner of (4)UC Irvine at (1)USC

• Can't Make it to the Court?
MPSF Tournament hosts USC will provide live streaming of all playoff matches this week. UC Santa Barbara's match can be viewed by following this link: USC will also be providing an audiocast that can be found here:

• Gauchos All Over the All-MPSF
For the second consecutive year, the Gauchos had four players named to the All-MPSF team. Jeff Menzel (1st team, fourth in MPSF kills), Scott Slaughter (2nd team, leader in MPSF hitting percentage), Andy McGuire (2nd team, fourth in MPSF digs), and Vince Devany (honorable mention, second in MPSF assists) all represented the Gauchos in this years awards.

• The Year Against the 49ers
To advance further in the playoffs, the Gauchos will need to turn around their play against Long Beach. They lost both matches against them this year, and have lost three if you include preseason matches. In fact, the Gauchos have won just one set against them all year. In their first meeting on Jan. 18, no Gaucho reached double-digit kills or served an ace. In their second meeting, Mar. 2, four LBSU hitters reached 10+ kills.

• Scouting the 49ers
Similar to BYU, the 49ers boast one of the most impressive freshman hitters in the nation in Taylor Crabb. Crabb was an All-MPSF honorable mention and a member of the All-Freshman team after recording five double-doubles this year. Junior Jim Baughman, a recent convert from outside hitter to opposite, leads the team with 305 kills (3.32 per game). Baughman was also the team leading server, racking up 28 aces. Holding down the fort at the net is senior middle blocker Antwain Aguillard, a first team All-MSPF selection who led the 49ers with 135 blocks (1.21 per game). Senior libero Kirk Francis anchors the back line for Long Beach, leading the team in digs with 231 digs (2.31 per game).

• Resilient Gauchos
Throughout the season, UCSB has shown an uncanny ability to bounce back from losses, a trend that continued last week when the Gauchos topped BYU after a loss to Pepperdine to close out the season. On the year, UCSB is 10-4 in matches following a loss.

• Upset City
Both UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State enter Thursday's semifinal match having upset higher seeds in their quarterfinal match. The Gauchos knocked off the second-ranked BYU Cougars, while the 49ers topped the third-ranked Stanford Cardinal, who were also the defending national champs. UCSB is hoping for two more upsets this week.

• Poll Vaulters
The Gauchos enter Thursday's match ranked fifth in the nation, their highest ranking since they tied for the same position with Long Beach State on Mar. 7.

• Menzel Saving the Best for Last
Though Jeff Menzel's solid attacking has been consistent all year (including double-digits kills in 25 of 29 matches, and 14 consecutive matches at one point), but he saved his best work for the last few matches of the season. Menzel has recorded 19+ kills in five of his last six matches, including a season-high 27 kills last weekend against No. 2 BYU and 26 against No. 3 Stanford. The Gauchos will need Jeff to be on the top of his game to advance in the playoffs, as they are just 1-3 when Menzel records less than 10 kills. For his efforts against BYU, Jeff was named the "Gaucho of the Week." Barring catastrophe, he will eclipse the 2000 career kill mark for just the third time in school history.

• Gaucho Legends
The end of the 2011 regular season marked the end of the careers of one of the most storied senior classes in Gaucho history. Outside hitter Jeff Menzel finished with 1998 kills (3rd most in school history) and 130 service aces (2nd most in school history). Setter Vince Devany finishes with 4436 assists, good for third all time. Libero Andy McGuire compiled 913 digs, second-most in school history.

• 300 Club
This year, the Gauchos had two 300-kill players for the first time since 2008 when then-freshman Jeff Menzel and Theo Brunner both finished above that mark. This year, Menzel (team-leading 430) and senior opposite Cullen Irons (343 kills) led the way for UCSB. After that bit of inconsistent play, it seems Irons has found the form that led him to be part of one of the most formidable attacking duos in the nation alongside Jeff Menzel. Cullen recorded a season-high 23 kills against Stanford on Apr. 8 and has reached 9+ kills in five of his past six matches-averaging 13.2 kills per match over that span.

• Gauchos in the Conference Top-10
A number of Gauchos finished the regular season high up on the conference leaderboard. Senior middle blocker Scott Slaughter led the conference in hitting percentage at .505. Senior outside hitter Jeff Menzel finished in the fourth in the nation in kills and kills per game, seventh in total points, and tenth in service aces. Senior opposite Cullen Irons was ninth in the conference in kills and tenth in kills per game. Senior libero Andy McGuire finished fourth in the conference in digs and digs per game.