Menzel, Gauchos regain mojo in sweep of Matadors

Coming off just their second losing streak of the year, UCSB swept Cal State Northridge 25-22, 25-23, 25-15 Friday night in a MPSF match in Rob Gym.

UCSB improved to 11-8 with a 9-7 mark in conference play. Northridge’s record fell 4-14, 3-10.

Jeff Menzel finished the night with 16 kills. He also recorded three service aces, six digs, and two blocks. He accounted for 20 of the Gauchos’ 56 points, 10.5 more than the next highest producer, senior middle blocker Scott Slaughter.

“Jeff’s a physical player. (Cal State Northridge) is a bit of a smaller team, so he matches up really well against them,” said UCSB coach Rick McLaughlin.

Senior libero Andy McGuire had a match-high 7 digs, and senior setter Vince Devany had 37 assists. Devany had a streak of seven straight matches with 40 or more assists broken, but his 12.3 assists per set were higher than his season average of 11.38 assists per set.

UCSB held the Matadors to a hitting percentage of .111 for the first game. Menzel recorded five of his kills and an ace in the set. The serving in the first game was notably sloppy – there were four service errors in the first seven points, and there were 10 overall in the game. Senior opposite Cullen Irons and sophomore middle blocker Dylan Davis had 3 blocks apiece.

The second set was by far the tightest set of the night, There were 14 ties and four lead changes over the course of the game. Cal State Northridge led as late as 22-21, but the second set was where Menzel’s game shined the brightest. He had seven kills in the set, and also had an impressive ace that bounced uncontested off CSUN’s Drew Staker’s thigh. Devany had 13 assists in the game.

Getting out to an early lead in the third, McLaughlin decided to go to his bench to finish the match. Substitutes Todd Travis and Blaine Nielsen both had encouraging sets. Nielsen had two kills on three attacks to go along with an important block, while Travis had four kills and a .571 hitting percentage. The Gauchos only allowed 15 points on the game, holding CSUN to a .129 hitting percentage.

The Gauchos take a bit of a break from conference play, playing in a tournament against Eastern teams Penn State and Lewis before taking a week off for finals week.

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