After finishing its season with a strong conference record of 16-8 under Head Coach Rick McLaughlin, the UCSB men’s volleyball team looks to make changes, taking on eight new freshmen in the upcoming year.
Losing four of their starting seniors, the Gauchos will have multiple holes to fill.
The graduating seniors include: outside hitter Matt Hanley, middle blocker Ryan Thompson, opposite Evan Licht and libero Chad Kingi.
Not only will these losses take a toll on the starting lineup, but they will also leave room for change in almost every position in the rotation.
As any coach does, McLaughlin was looking to the future throughout this past season. He carried two redshirts, junior opposite Matt Marsh and senior outside hitter Vaun Lennon, that will step up next season to ease the transition.
“The guys we already had in the gym this year will be the ones filling the positions of the graduating seniors,” McLaughlin said.
Marsh had previously played on the team his freshman and sophomore year, but due to an injury on his hand he sat out this past season.
By next year, he will be ready to make his appearance back out on the court. Lennon, on the other hand, was a transfer acquired from UC San Diego. He earned many accomplishments during his time as a Triton, one of which was being named to the UCSB Asics Invitational All-Tournament Team.
Aside from redshirts, the Gauchos will also welcome an exceptionally high number of new freshmen. Of the incoming players, McLaughlin mentioned that all were exceptional but pointed out three in particular.
First is Shane Hauschild, a player who has received attention from both the men’s volleyball and water polo teams. Hauschild was recruited to UCSB on scholarship to play water polo, but will also play on the volleyball team as confirmed by McLaughlin.
Hauschild comes to UCSB from San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara, where he recently led his team to a conference title.
Another new addition to the team is 6’8” middle blocker Connor Drake from Loomis, California. Drake will replace current 6’9” senior middle blocker Thompson.
Finally, the Gauchos welcome outside hitter Hayden Boehle from Loyola High School in Pasadena, California. Boehle is the younger brother of freshman libero Parker Boehle.
Although filling the gaps of four starters seems dramatic, McLaughlin is prepared to take the progress his team made this year and grow from it in the upcoming season.
This year, the team made its deepest run in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament since 2011.
The Gauchos made it all the way to the seminfinals after a close win over No. 9 UCLA, before they were swept by eventual MPSF champions BYU.
Overall, UCSB ended with the No. 5 ranking in the nation this past season.
“I think we are going to be better than we were this year,” McLaughlin said.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of May 15, 2014 print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Peter Vandenbelt of the Daily Nexus.