No. 14 UC Santa Barbara Upsets No. 6 UCLA
Santa Barbara, Calif. - Freshman opposite Jeff Menzel ripped a match high 21 kills as the No. 14 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team upset sixth-ranked UCLA 3-1 Wednesday night at Robertson Gymnasium. Game scores were 30-21, 31-29, 25-30, and 30-24 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) match.
The win enabled UCSB to even both of its records at 7-7 overall and 5-5 in MPSF play. The Gauchos entered tonight's match in ninth place in the league but will end the day in a three-way tie for sixth with Stanford and USC at the mid-point of the regular season.
UCLA, which has lost three of its last five matches, fell to 10-6 overall and 7-5 in conference action. The Bruins are tied with Pepperdine for fourth place in the MPSF.
Offensively, Santa Barbara had one of its strongest matches of the season, hitting a solid .341 (63-18-132) over the four games. The Gauchos hit .515 (18-1-33) in the second set, and then dropped all the way down to .125 (12-8-32) in the next. They were able to recover quickly and post a .424 (17-3-33) clip in game four.
UCLA finished with a .253 (69-31-150) attack percentage and hit above .300 in games two and three. However, the Bruins swung at .122 (14-9-41) in the opening game and .222 (16-8-36) in the fourth frame.
Menzel hit .341 (21-7-41) and had nine digs and 21.5 points. Outside hitter Mike Runkle recorded 15 kills while hitting .429 (15-3-28) and adding two aces, 11 digs, three blocks, and 18.5 points. Middle blocker Theo Brunner totaled 12 kills, four blocks, and 15.5 points. Setter Max Klineman amassed 48 assists and also had five digs.
The Bruins had four players with 10 or more kills. Sean O'Malley and Ryan Ratelle each had 16, Garrett Muagututia posted 13, and D.J. Stromath had 10. Libero Tony Ker racked up a match best 15 digs and setter Matt Wade had 61 assists.
Dating back to last season, UCSB has won the last two match-ups between the squads as the Gauchos took a 3-1 victory over the Bruins in an MPSF Tournament quarterfinal match last April. UCLA is a heavy favorite in the all-time series as it holds a 111-29 advantage. UCSB plays at UCLA April 2 at 7 p.m.
The Gauchos take their show on the road for the next four matches, the longest away streak for the team this season. They play at defending national champion UC Irvine Feb. 23, at UC San Diego Feb. 29, at Long Beach State Mar. 1, and at Cal State Northridge Mar. 5. The next home match is Mar. 12 when the USC Trojans come to Rob Gym for a 7 p.m. match.
Article courtesy of UC Santa Barbara athletics.