No. 3 Gauchos Head to NCAA Final Four

May 2, 2011

SANTA BARBARA, CALIF. -

Complete Release in PDF FormatGet Acrobat Reader

• The Schedule
Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 4 p.m. PST
at Penn State's Rec Stadium in University Park, Penn.
(4)UC Santa Barbara (17-14, 11-11) vs.
(1)USC (23-3, 20-2)
Series record vs. the Trojans- 55-50
Streak- Won 1
2010 Series- USC 2-0
2011 Series- USC 2-1
Last time out vs. the Trojans- W, 3-2

Saturday, May 7, 2011 at 4 p.m. PST
at Penn State's Rec Stadium in University Park, Penn.
NCAA Championship Match
Winner of (1)USC-(4)UCSB vs. winner of (2)Penn State-(3)Ohio State

• Can't Make it to the Court?
Both the semifinal match between UCSB and USC and the potential Championship Match on Saturday will be broadcasted on ESPN2. The matches will also be streamed live on espn3.com and will be accessible on the new ESPNmobile app. Gametracker services will also be provided for all three matches this week.

• A Brief History of the Gauchos in the NCAA Final Four
This year marks the Gaucho's fifth overall appearance in the Final Four and first since 1988, when they lost the National Title match against USC. They played runner-up three other times: 1971, 1974, and 1975, each time falling to the UCLA Bruins. UCSB is 4-0 in semifinal matches and 0-4 in championship matches.

• All-American Gauchos
Somewhat lost in the shuffle of the Gauchos playoff run was the naming of the AVCA All-American team on Thursday. UCSB had two recipients of All-American honors: senior outside hitter Jeff Menzel and senior libero Andy McGuire. Menzel was a first team selection after averaging 4.17 kills per game over the season. McGuire, a second team choice, was one of just two liberos elected to the entire squad.

• Will the Glass Slipper Fit?
The Gauchos have effectively become the official "Cinderella" team of this year's MPSF and NCAA playoffs. To claim the championship, UCSB had to defeat a trio of teams against whom they had a combined 1-6 record, including USC, who was ranked first in the nation virtually all year. The Gauchos hope to continue their upsetting ways against the Trojans and the winner of the Penn State/Ohio State match and claim their first NCAA title in school history.

• The Brothers McLaughlin
UCSB Head Coach Rick McLaughlin is attempting to rebuild the program his older brother Jim Mclaughlin played for from 1982-1983. Rick has taken a huge step forward, leading the Gauchos to their first NCAA Final Four appearance since 1988, where they eventually fell to USC in the championship match. Jim, the head coach for Washington's women's volleyball team, won a national championship with the Huskies in 2005. He also led the Trojan's men's program to a national title in his rookie year as head coach in 1990. Jim is the only coach in history to win a national championship as both a men's and women's volleyball head coach.

• I Wish They All Could Be California Guys
Of the four teams in the NCAA tournament, UCSB is the only school whose roster exclusively features players from California.

• UCSB's Playoff Run
To get to the Conference Championship, the Gauchos had to defeat two teams who had given them fits all year. In the quarterfinal match at BYU, Jeff Menzel didn't care that BYU was on a 7-match winning streak and hadn't lost a match at home all year. Menzel led the match in both kills (27) and digs (8). The victory came despite strong matches from outsides Robb Stowell (19 kills) and Taylor Sander (15 kills) and a match-high 9 blocks from middle blocker Futi Tavana. Topping BYU 3-1, UCSB set its sights on Long Beach State. Menzel once again had a dominant match, leading all players with 23 kills, while Scott Slaughter turned in 11 kills on a .786 hitting percentage. The 49ers were held to just a .226 team hitting percentage. Jeff Menzel saved his best match of the season for last, racking up a season-high 28 kills against USC in the MPSF championship. Cullen Irons recorded his second double-double of the season (15 kills, 12 digs), and Scott Slaughter had 10 kills on a .500 hitting percentage, including the championship-clinching spike.

• Young Blood
The last time the Gauchos reached the Four Four, in 1988, less than half of the current UCSB roster was alive.

• Where Menzel Goes, So Go the Gauchos
UCSB needed outside hitter Jeff Menzel to step up in the playoffs and he has done so and then some. In matches where Jeff fails to record 10 kills, the Gauchos are just 1-3, including early season losses to USC and Long Beach State.

• Digging Up a Storm
Senior libero Andy McGuire, a second-team choice on both the All-MPSF and All-America teams is capping off one of the greatest defensive careers in school history. Andy's play has especially come on as of late. McGuire has recorded seven or more digs in eight out of his nine past matches. Last season, he set the single-season dig record with 322 digs. At 256 digs on the season, Andy has a chance to have the top two season dig totals in school history (second place is 270).

• Poll Vaulters
The Gauchos enter the NCAA tourney ranked third in the nation, their highest ranking since Feb. 21, when they were also third. UCSB was the only team besides USC to receive a first-place vote.

• Resilient Gauchos
Throughout the season, UCSB has shown an uncanny ability to bounce back from losses, a trend that continued in the MPSF playoffs 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.

• 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 year's awards. This year's MPSF championship was the first 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. Jeff Menzel finished the regular season with 1,998 kills (3rd most in school history) and 130 service aces (2nd most in school history). Setter Vince Devany finishes with 4,436 assists, good for third all time. Libero Andy McGuire compiled 913 digs, second-most in school history.

• Irons Joins the 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 481) and senior opposite Cullen Irons (366 kills) led the way for UCSB. After a 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 8+ kills in seven of his past eight matches-averaging 12.75 kills per match over that span.

• Slaughterhouse-Five
Over the past few weeks, senior middle blocker, and the Gauchos quick-hit specialist, Scott Slaughter has shown the ability to show up for big games. In the final regular season match of the season against USC, Scott had 14 kills and an .875 hitting percentage, while recording 11 kills at a .786 clip against Long Beach State. Scott leads the Gauchos in hitting percentage at .504 (conference leader) and blocks (101). Scott, a second-team All-MPSF honoree, had the championship-clinching kill against USC last Saturday.

• Stellar Sophomore
Dylan Davis is sometimes forgotten as the only underclassmen in a starting lineup full of seniors. But the sophomore middle blocker has shown the pedigree that made him a star recruit for the class of 2013 along with setter Oliver Deutschman. Dylan is second on the team in starts (30), fourth in kills (174), second in hitting percentage (.478) and second in blocks (93). Davis has shown himself to be an adept quick-hitter as well, recording as many as 13 kills in a match.

• Mr. Gaucho
Senior outside hitter Jeff Menzel has been named ucsbgaucho.com's "Gaucho of the Week" for two consecutive weeks. This past week, Jeff accumulated 51 kills in UCSB's two playoff matches against LBSU and USC. For his efforts, Jeff was named the MPSF Tourney's MVP. At 481 kills, Jeff has a prime chance to reach 500 kills for the third consecutive season.

• All-Tourney, All the Time
As MPSF champions, UCSB had three members of the All-MPSF Tourney team: Menzel, who had 74 kills over the course of the tournament, tops among all participants, Trey Valbuena, whose nine digs against LBSU keyed them to victory and whose fourth game kill-ace-kill combo swung the momentum in UCSB's favor against USC, and Scott Slaughter, who had 10 kills in the championship match, none bigger than the winning kill.

• Setting the Table
Senior setter Vince Devany, an All-MPSF honorable mention, currently sits second all time in school history with 4539 assists. This year, he was second in the conference and third in the nation in assists per set. He has had three campaigns register on the UCSB single-season top-10 assists list.

View: Mobile | Desktop