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Monday, March 18 , 2019, 9:48 am | Fair 59º

Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank

UCSB Ends Preseason on Mixed Note

Gauchos win final match of own tournament after falling to Irvine and Northridge.

The end of the Elephant Bar Restaurant Collegiate Invitational earned the UCSB men’s volleyball team a preseason record of 1-2 and gave fans and skeptics both a taste of what the 2008 season would bring.

UCSB’s Jan. 2 match against Alberta proved the young Gauchos still have synergy and athleticism even without last year’s senior standouts, Evan Patak and David Kennedy. The five-game win over the visiting Golden Bears, however, got the men in perhaps too high of spirits for the ensuing matches at UCSB last weekend.

A loss to reigning national champion UC Irvine on Jan. 4 was followed by a devastating sweep by Cal State Northridge in the tournament’s second round. The Gauchos’ win over Pacific on Saturday earned them a seventh-place finish in the eight-team tournament and was more than appreciated after the previous day’s frustrating defeats.

Amid snuffs by Anteaters and sweeps by Matadors, promising players proved themselves on the court, giving coach Ken Preston high hopes for his swan-song season. Returning seniors and standouts include libero Ben Brockman, outside hitter Michael Fisher, fron Santa Barbara High, and 2007 AVCA first-team All-American Theo Brunner, who’s getting a different view of the court in his new position as opposite hitter.

Filling the void in the middle left by Brunner is sophomore Sam Moisenco whose blocks are a key element to UCSB’s presence at the net. Starting setter is junior Max Klineman who already has handed out 88 assists, many of which found the hungry hands of freshman and San Marcos High alum Jeff Menzel.

This season is Preston’s 30th and final with the Gauchos, and he leaves behind a legacy of being the winningest coach in UCSB men’s volleyball history. Preston reflected that, in the time since he started with the program in 1979, what he would remember most are the people he has been able to work with, rather than his 506-364 overall record or 19 winning seasons.

UCSB opens Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play Wednesday at Pepperdine, followed by the second match of the season at USC on Friday. The Gauchos’ first home game is a rematch against Northridge on Jan. 19 at Robertson Gym.

Katie Shara is a sophomore at San Marcos High.

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