If it was revenge that the #2 UCSB men’s volleyball team was looking for last night against Cal Baptist, it got it.
After losing to the Lancers last season, the Gauchos decided to put Cal Baptist in its place. Santa Barbara upped the ante and came out on top in a short-and-sweet 30-21, 30-26, 30-16 win.
“It was not a pretty match,” UCSB Head Coach Ken Preston said. “We got off to a bad start. There were some weird calls. We missed some serves, and they missed some serves. [In the second and third game] we started passing better, transitioning better and serving better.”
UCSB (4-0 overall, 1-0 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) got off to a rocky start in game one. However, the team quickly turned the table and took a 14-11 lead. Sophomore opposite Ben Koski’s two ace serves widened the Gauchos’ lead to seven, 22-15. Santa Barbara had a few more aces in its hand, specifically from the two service aces that junior outside hitter Dave Kohl fired at Cal Baptist, ending game one in UCSB’s favor, 30-21.
“We were a little too tense at first,” Koski said. “We played sloppy volleyball, but we got it together in the end. [In the second game] we put a lot more balls away in transition.”
The Lancers might have thought they had a chance in game two with the scored tied at three, but UCSB quickly took control of the situation and scored five consecutive points, 8-3. Cal Baptist’s senior outside hitter Rick Schapler’s feet came down wrong shortly thereafter, and the fall rattled players on both sides of the net.
“When he went down it screwed up the tempo,” Koski said. “It’s upsetting seeing someone get hurt like that because you start to get scared that it might happen to you. But we sucked it up and finished the game.”
Maybe Koski was anxious to get off the court because his intensity rose to another level as he tallied three kills in the following minutes. However, the Lancers remained afloat due to junior middle blocker Andy Pool’s consecutive kills. But Pool couldn’t handle the ace serve from sophomore middle blocker Anders Bengtsson that ended the game with UCSB ahead 30-26.
Santa Barbara took an early 8-1 lead in game three before the Lancers got it together and narrowed the gap to three. UCSB stepped up, stretching its margin to 10, and the Lancers failed to respond, losing to UCSB 30-16.
“They play well as a team, and they have a good opposite [Koski],” Cal Baptist’s junior outside hitter Matt Peacock said of the Gauchos. “They play a quick offense, and they had some good serves tonight.”
The Gauchos tallied nine ace serves, four from the hands of Koski, who also led the team in kills with 14. Kohl was right behind him with 12 kills, and sophomore middle blocker Justin Adams bolstered UCSB’s blocking attack with three blocks.
UCSB takes on #4 Stanford this Saturday at 4 p.m. in Rob Gym in its second conference match of the season.