Gauchos swept in season closer; travel to BYU for playoffs

UCSB ended its regular season on a bit of a sour note, falling to top-ranked USC in straight sets on Saturday night at the Galen Center. Game scores were 25-21, 25-21, 30-28.

With the loss, the Gauchos have dropped six straight games in their past two matches, and enter the playoffs having lost four of their last five matches — their sole victory being against No. 3 Stanford.

The Gauchos final record was an even .500- 14-14 with an 11-11 conference record. USC improved to a 21-2 record with the win, including a 20-2 conference record.

The Gauchos finish the season as the seventh seed in the MPSF and will open the playoffs by traveling to No. 2 BYU next Saturday night, Apr. 23. So far this season, the Gauchos are 1-2 against the Cougars.

The Gauchos were led again by senior outside hitter Jeff Menzel, who in his last regular season match recorded 19 kills to lead all players on the floor. Menzel has recorded 19 or more kills in four of his last five matches.

Senior middle blocker Scott Slaughter ended his regular season career in spectacular fashion with a season-high 14 kills on an astronomical .875 hitting percentage while leading the Gauchos with two blocks.

For the second night in the row, UCSB was severely outblocked as a team. USC racked up 12.5 team blocks to the UCSB’s 3. Murphy Troy led the way for the Trojans with six blocks and 10 kills. Tony Ciarelli led USC with 13 kills.

The Gauchos were only outhit .393 to .327, but USC’s net play swung the game in their favor.
Senior setter Vince Devany and senior libero Andy McGuire also finished with strong nights: Devany had a match-high 49 assists while McGuire led all players with nine digs. Cullen Irons followed up his strong Thursday-night performance with nine kills and four digs.