Gauchos take out UCLA to reach tournament final

Led by impressive all-around performances from Cullen Irons, Scott Slaughter and Jeff Menzel, UCSB showed hard work and good energy in dispatching No. 9-ranked UCLA to advance to the championship of the Gaucho Invitational men’s volleyball tournament on Friday.

The Gauchos won in four games, 25-13, 23-25, 27-25, 25-23, at Rob Gym.

They’ll face BYU for the tournament title at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Rob Gym. BYU defeated Long Beach State in the other semifinal, 25-17, 25-18, 25-22.

UCSB ran a well-spread, efficient offense against the Bruins. Irons led the way with 18 Kills on 37 attempts, four aces and four digs. Menzel contributed 13 kills on 30 swings and Slaughter hit a team-high .562 with 11 kills, committing just two errors on 16 attempts.

Defensively, Andy McGuire had 12 of the Gauchos’ 33 digs, and Dylan Davis stuffed six of the team’s 18 total blocks.

Former Santa Barbara High star Jeremy Casebeer contributed six kills on 15 attempts and eight digs for UCLA.

Weston Dunlap had 12 kills and Jack Polales put away 11 for the Bruins.

Earlier in the day, UCSB swept Cal State Northridge, 25-16, 21-21, 21-17. Menzel and Irons each had 12 kills and the Gauchos hit .530 as a team.

In other first round matches, UCLA defeated UC Davis in four games, BYU topped Cal Baptist in four and Long Beach State knocked off UC Irvine in four.

BYU swept Long Beach State in the other winner’s bracket match.

In the loser’s bracket, Northridge beat UCSD in four and Cal Baptist surprised UC Irvine in four.

Today’s matches — all at Rob Gym — begin at 11 a.m. with UCSD taking on Cal Baptist; Northridge plays UC Irvine at 1:30 and UCLA meets Long Beach State at 4 p.m.