MVB: Gauchos sweep Stanford, draw Pepperdine in playoffs

PALO ALTO – Senior outside hitter Kevin Donohue had a night to remember in the final regular season for ninth-ranked UC Santa Barbara, posting a team-high 15 kills while leading the Gauchos to a dominant 3-0 sweep (25-17, 25-18, 25-14) of Stanford on Saturday evening at the Maples Pavillion.

With the win, the Gauchos (17-9, 13-9 MPSF) are set to finish as the No. 6 seed in the conference. They could have jumped as high as No. 5 had BYU lost to second-seed Hawai’i in Provo, but the Cougars pulled out a five-set win to maintain their advantage over the Gauchos. Thus, UCSB is set for a first-round matchup at No. 3 Pepperdine, a team which the Gauchos beat earlier this week, next Saturday night, Apr. 25.

UCSB hit .447 as a team against the Cardinal on Saturday night, the team’s highest clip against an MPSF opponent this season.

Stanford, who was eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to UCLA last night despite finishing runner up in the NCAA Championship last year, finishes the 2015 campaign with a record of 10-18, 7-15.

Donohue, who also finished with a career-best .536 hitting percentage, was just one of a few Gauchos to have a standout performance against the Cardinal.

Fellow outside hitter Jacob Delson was dominant from the left side, putting down 10 kills on an errorless 13 swings for a .736 hitting percentage. He is the first outside hitter for UCSB this season to record double-digit kills in a match without recording an error.

Junior setter Jonah Seif had 32 assists and 10 digs to pick up yet another double-double. The AVCA All-American has now done so in four straight and six of his last outings.

Perhaps more impressive than any individual performance for the Gauchos was what Rick McLaughlin’s squad did to Stanford, as the Cardinal hit just .088 as a team and had no single player finish with more than five kills, a first for a UCSB opponent this season.

Among the four Cardinal hitters to take 10 or more swings, three finished with negative hitting percentages, with Stanford recording 20 attacking errors as a team compared to UCSB’s five.

The Gauchos also ended up dominating their opponents at the net, outblocking them 14-5. Senior middle blocker Jake Staahl led the way for UCSB with eight blocks assists, but every starter except Spencer Buckley had at least four.

This is the third consecutive playoff berth for UCSB. That is the first time that has happened in the Rick McLaughlin era (since 2009) and the first time overall for the program since the 2005-07 seasons.