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Menzel Leads Gauchos’ Sweeping Upset of USC

Former San Marcos star finds right side with 21 kills but UCSB spreads offense around.

Backed by a match-high 21 kills from freshman Jeff Menzel, the No. 13 UCSB men’s volleyball team swept to an upset of No. 10 USC, 3-0, at Robertson Gymnasium on Wednesday. The victory snapped the Gauchos’ four-match losing skid and gave UCSB a 45-44 lead in the all-time series against the Trojans.

Scores of the sweep were 30-25, 30-23 and 30-27. UCSB improved to 8-11 overall and 6-9 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, while USC fell to 9-12 on the year and now also sits at 6-9 in league play. Both squads are tied for ninth in the MPSF.

Menzel had a field day from the right side, hitting a career-high .529 with three errors in 34 attempts. The former San Marcos High star also added three digs, three blocks and a match-best 23 points.

As a team, the Gauchos had one of their most productive matches on offense. They hit .366 (50-13-101) and out-blocked the Trojans, 12-3. USC managed just a .178 (41-23-101) attack percentage.

UCSB spread out its offensive barrage as several players contributed multiple kills, including Theo Brunner (nine), Mike Runkle (eight), Phil Mathews (six) and Matt Thobe (five). Thobe set several career highs as he hit .556 (5-0-9) with a pair of service aces and 10.5 points. The middle blocker also had two digs and a match-high six blocks.

Freshman setter Vince Devany totaled 43 assists for UCSB.

The Trojans got 14 kills from C.J. Schellenberg and 12 from Juan Figueroa. Luke Morris had a match-high 10 digs, while Jimmy Killian and Riley McKibbin split setting duties, recording 19 and 16 assists, respectively.

Click here for Wednesday’s official box score and play-by-play.

UCSB hosts No. 5 Pepperdine at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Waves (8-8, 8-8 MPSF) fell in five games at second-ranked Cal State Northridge on Wednesday. The Gauchos are 0-1 against Pepperdine this season, losing 3-1 in Malibu back in early January.

Scott Flanders is UCSB‘s associate media relations director.

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