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Showing posts from May, 2011

Buckeyes Triumph to Conclude Bizarro Season

The NCAA men's volleyball season concluded last night. For UC Santa Barbara, which vanquished powerhouse USC in Thursday's semifinals, the Gauchos' gaudy hitting percentages of late (roughly .400 at the team level and as high as the .800s at the individual level) were (for the most part) nowhere to be found. Instead, it was an Ohio State squad, whose season featured such inauspicious outings as a loss to UC San Diego and a five-game match with Princeton, left standing.

The championship-match scores were 20-25, 25-20, 25-19, 22-25, and 15-9.

The hitting heroes last night were wearing Buckeye red and white (box score). Grayson Overman hit .800 with 12 kills and no errors on 15 attempts (fear the faux-hawk!). Shawn Sangrey played more of a workhorse role, garnering 30 kills (with 9 errors) on 54 attempts (.389). OSU hit .329 as a team, compared to .198 for Santa Barbara. The Gauchos' stalwart, Jeff Menzel, was barely in positive territory (.025).

Obviously, winning Game 2…

UCSB Does It Again, Will Face Ohio State in Final

I was skeptical of whether UC Santa Barbara could replicate its .395 hitting percentage against USC in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation men's tournament final, in the teams' NCAA Final Four rematch last night. Boy, was I wrong! The Gauchos hit virtually the identical percentage, .394, in beating the Trojans again, 29-27, 24-26, 25-15, 25-18 (box score). 'SC hit .333.

As shown in the following graph, the Gauchos' individual hitting percentages varied between the MPSF final and NCAA semifinal. It was as if the Trojans made a concerted -- and successful -- effort to stop Jeff Menzel, but the increased attention on him left openings for other UCSB hitters.


As Trojan Coach Bill Ferguson said in his post-match press conference [bracketed annotations by me]:

When you look at our match last week with them, Jeff Menzel killed us, Scott Slaughter killed us, and [tonight] we did an unbelievable job I thought, keeping Menzel hitting .071. We kept Slaughter under .300. We kept…

UCSB's Stunning Ride to the NCAA Men's Final Four

Who is the gaucho amigo?
Why is he standing,
In your spangled leather poncho,
And your elevator shoes?

-- "Gaucho," Steely Dan (1980)

So unexpected is the University of California, Santa Barbara's run to the NCAA men's Final Four that many observers (figuratively) will be singing "Who are those Gauchos?" in the spirit of the old Steely Dan song, as the competition gets underway Thursday night in State College, Pennsylvania.

UCSB finished seventh in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), but put together an improbable run in the conference tournament that included successive wins over second-place BYU, sixth-place Long Beach State (which had eliminated third-place Stanford), and first-place USC for the championship.

Because the powers that be in college volleyball (as well as other sports) apparently deem it more appropriate to award an automatic NCAA tournament bid to the winner of a one-week conference tournament rather than a three-month conference …