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UCSB Volleyball’s Ken Preston to Become Newest Legend of the Dome

Santa Barbara High boys volleyball coach Chad Arneson, second from left, is joined by players Will Rottman, left, Dane Westwick and Henry Hancock. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara High boys volleyball coach Chad Arneson, second from left, is joined by players Will Rottman, left, Dane Westwick and Henry Hancock.  (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

UCSB men’s volleyball will pay tribute to retired coach Ken Preston during the Gauchos’ regular-season finale against BYU on Saturday, April 7 at the Thunderdome.

Assistant coach Vince Devany announced at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table that Preston will become a “Legend of the Dome” that night and a banner ceremony will be held after the second set of the Gauchos’ Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match with the Cougars.

Ken Preston coached UCSB men’s volleyball for 30 years. Click to view larger
Ken Preston coached UCSB men’s volleyball for 30 years. (UCSB Gauchos file photo)

“Kenny will go up among the greats of the Dome and they’ll announce that he’s being inducted in the Gaucho Hall of Fame in 2018,” said Devany, who played his freshman year for Preston. “It’s long overdue.”

Preston coached the Gauchos for 30 years and retired in 2008.

UCSB’s quest to make the postseason could be determined on Preston’s special night. The Gauchos have four matches remaining and need to win three to secure the eighth and final spot in the MPSF Tournament, according to Devany.

After a bye this week for final exams, UCSB (5-9 in the MPSF) plays at Cal Baptist (1-13) on March 30 and at USC (5-9) on March 31 before closing out the regular season at home against BYU on April 6 and 7.  

“We calculate we’re going to need three wins of the matches we have left,” said Devany. 


Santa Barbara: It’s rivalry week for Chad Arneson’s squad as it plays San Marcos on Tuesday and Dos Pueblos on Thursday in Channel League matches at J.R. Richards Gym.

“Hopefully, our non-league matches prepared us for this tough week of matches at home,” said Arneson, whose Dons are 6-5 overall and 1-0 in league.

He introduced captains Henry Hancock and Will Rottman and setter Dane Westwick. Hancock, who signed with UCSB, leads the team in blocks. Rottman, a sophomore, is the kills leader and is closing in on 100 for the season, said Arneson.

He called Westwick a “scrappy player with a big heart who refuses to let balls drop. He’s doing a great job of running the offense.”

Arneson also noted that Westwick carries a 4.8 GPA.


San Marcos: Royals coach Jeff Swann said sophomore catcher Megan Cunnison is finding her groove at the plate after playing volleyball and basketball. 

“It takes her till about now to get her swing back and get her eye on the ball,” he said. “That’s what happened last week. She started crushing the ball. She’s ready to explode in the second half of the season.”

Junior Aliyah Huerta-Leipner is an an outstanding pitcher and hitter who also plays volleyball and soccer at San Marcos. She’s made a verbal commitment with Boston University.

Both players excel in the classroom, too, caring GPA’s of 4.6.

The Royals (9-3) will take a two-week break before resuming play.

Dos Pueblos: Coach Jon Uyesaka introduced two strong senior players, Elly Cutliffe and Anya Schmitz. “They provide great leadership,” he said. 

"Elly works incredibly hard — she's usually there 30 to 60 minutes after practice ends," he noted. "We try to get her to rest and relax, but she loves the game so much. It's going to be a really tough loss for us when she goes to college next year. She's still deciding on where to go."

Schmitz, the third baseman, has committed to Brown University. "She has great hands and speed at third base, and has really been one of those strong, captain-like players through the years," said Uyesaka.

The Chargers play host to Division 2 fifth-ranked Simi Valley in a doubleheader on Thursday.

UCSB: Coach Brie Galicinao said Kristen Clark was selected the Big West Scholar-Athlete of the Year with a 3.8 GPA and became UCSB’s all-time career hits leader with 260.

The Gauchos host their Gaucho Classic 2 tournament this weekend and travels to Cal and Sacramento State before starting Big West play at Cal Poly on April 1.


San Marcos: With a background in gymnastics, freshman Megan Musick was asked by coach Chuckie Roth if she "could get up on the board and dive for us and earn some points?”

Musick has delivered for the Royals, who beat Dos Pueblos last week in a Channel League dual meet and compete at Santa Barbara on Tuesday.

"She comes out during her own time at lunch, she dives, she does swimming during fourth period, and then she plays club water polo after that, all weekend long," said Roth.

Sophomore Fiona Kuesis, an All-American on a relay last season, is being counted on to step in for Paige Hauschild in the relay at the State Championships in June. Hauschild won’t be competing because she’ll be attending a USA Water Polo team tryout, according to Roth.

SBCC Women: After losing some key swimmers due to some unforeseen circumstances, the Vaqueros have adopted the battle cry of “Dig Deep.”

“One of the things the team talks about his digging deep,” said Roth. “That’s our saying. It’s really fun to coach a group of kids who want to be great, who want to improve the best they can for the school.”

He said Katie Winters has improved from a 1:19 in the 100 fly to 1:09 and Serafina Chavez won the 100 fly at a recent meet in a personal best time.

Santa Barbara High: Coach Mark Walsh said Vanessa Lytle grew a lot as a sophomore last year. "She didn't think she was very good until she reached the Channel League finals in two event." She then told Walsh she didn’t think she could come back. He replied: “You’re in the finals of Channel League. You need to come back.”

Lytle qualified for CIF on a relay team. 

“We’re looking for bigger things from her," Walsh said. "She’s training with us at the high school this year.”

Sophomore Lila Roderick is one of Santa Barbara’s main freestyle swimmers. “She swims anything from the 50 to 500. She helps on ‘A’ relays and is critical for our success,” said Walsh.

Miles Gaitan returned to the Dons after training with the Santa Barbara Swim Club and Walsh was impressed with his improvement.

“We hadn’t seen him much and all of sudden he dropped 10 seconds of what he did from the year before,” Walsh recalled. “He’s very intense, loves to race, is very competitive. It’s fun to have a kid as competitive as him. 

“We have some big goals for our team,” Walsh added. “We want to make CIF in a couple of events, and Miles is pushing hard for that.”

Walsh credited the Santa Barbara Swim Club for developing young swimmers for the high schools.

“We’re very lucky to have the swim cub supporting these kids and we at the high school have benefited having them,” he said.

San Marcos: Coach Jeff Ashton also cited the importance of the swim club. Senior Patrick Rowley was his first club swimmer. He’s a three-time league finalist in the 100 back and was on last year’s 200 medley relay that went to CIF.

Ashton said Rowley will join the U.S. Navy and train for the special forces operation SWCC, Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman.

“I’m really excited for him and proud of him,” said Ashton.

Ashton also introduced sophomore Matt Mills, another product of the Santa Barbara Swim Club.

“He showed up last year and was an incredible talent," Ashton said. "Either he was our fastest or second fastest behind George Kuesis. This year, he’s not only our top sprinter, he’s vying to be the top sprinter in the league.”

In first meet, Mills broke the school record in 50 freestyle, a mark that stood since 1974. 

“We’re hoping for great things the rest of the year and two more years,” said Ashton.

Carpinteria: The Warriors’ Sal Briceno is also headed to the Navy after graduation.

“He signed a contract for Navy SEALS training,” said coach Matt Organista of the four-year swimmer and water polo player.

He said Briceno and Alisa Lemere are key leaders on the team. Lemere will be attending the University of Oregon. 

Organista has two talented freshmen in Caleb Classes and Alexis Persoon.

“Lexis has a beautiful stroke,” he said. “In her first 500, she went super deep into CIF consideration and almost got an automatic time.”

He called Classen “a machine. He does so much stuff all of the time. I have to pull the reins back."

Classen does the 500 free.

“He’s a stroke master. He’s going to be doing big things for this sport in the future,” said Organista.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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