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Determined to give the home crowd one last win this season, the #6 UCSB men’s volleyball team upset #3 Stanford by a score of 3-1 (25-22, 23-25, 25-23, 25-16) on Senior Night in the Thunderdome last Friday. After a 2-3 loss to Pacific on Thursday night, the Gauchos received season-high performances from seniors Jeff Menzel and Cullen Irons. UCSB improved its record to 14-12 overall and 11-9 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
[media-credit id=16616 align="alignleft" width="166"][/media-credit]“It was tough coming off that loss to Pacific. We couldn’t end our home matches with a loss,” Irons said. “We were loose out there, but we played every point like we needed it. We played good defense, and that got everyone going. Now we got to take this on the road.”
Led by junior Brad Lawson and senior Spencer McLachlin, defending national champion Stanford jumped out to a 10-5 lead early in the opening game, but UCSB rallied back in front of raucous home fans, winning the first game 25-22. The Gauchos maintained consistency all night with a team hitting percentage of .393, while holding the Cardinal to a hitting percentage of just .240.
“The loss to Pacific was a wakeup call for all the guys,” UCSB Head Coach Rick McLaughlin said. “They paid attention to details tonight all the way. It was a total team effort. The seniors came to play tonight. They wanted it. We got on a blocking run, and that was big. I love coaching that team.”
After Stanford won the match-tying second game, the Gauchos stepped up the intensity to win a close third game and ultimately the match after dominating the fourth game. Menzel and Irons both recorded season highs in kills with 26 and 23, respectively. Senior setter Vince Devany added 58 assists, his second-highest total of the year. Senior middle blocker Scott Slaughter also had a solid performance with eight kills and a pair of monster blocks.
“The MPSF is tough top to bottom. Santa Barbara is a real good team,” Stanford Head Coach John Kosty said. “It was a great Senior Night for them. [Menzel] and [Irons] are talented seniors. They understand the game at this level, and they played great tonight. Both of our teams are playoff bound, so we might see them again.”
The Gauchos now finish the 2011 regular season with two away matches this week. UCSB travels to Pepperdine on Thursday before taking on #1 USC on Saturday for the squad’s last match before the MPSF playoffs.