The UCSB men’s volleyball team fought tooth and nail with its Mountain Pacific Sports Federation rival Irvine 3-2 on Tuesday evening at Rob Gym.
#6 Santa Barbara came into Tuesday night’s match previously splitting two matches with #7 University of Hawai’i and then dropping a five-match game to USC last Saturday. The Anteaters came into the match with a 3-6 overall record and 1-3 in the MPSF.
Irvine put up a good fight, and apparently the Gauchos expected a high-caliber level of competition going into Tuesday’s match.
"We did expect this [level of competition]," junior outside hitter David Kohl said. "Irvine beat USC and lost a really close one to Long Beach. They’re always a tough program."
Santa Barbara dropped game one to Irvine, 26-30, but jumped out to an early lead in game two. The Anteaters tied it up at 13-13, and then both teams went point for point until UCSB took the lead and clinched a win in game two with a final score of 30-24.
Game three followed the tone set by the previous game, with the two teams constantly tying the game. The Gauchos pulled off a number of unanswered spikes and edged out Irvine, 30-23.
Santa Barbara tried to put the game to bed in game four, but its efforts weren’t enough to end the match. Junior outside hitter Alex Lienert capitalized on his time off the bench during game four, with two nice plays that were good for two points for the Gauchos.
Irvine tied it up at 14-14 and then managed to take the lead for the first time since game one. The Anteaters ultimately won the game, 34-32, in a nail-biting battle for the game point.
"In rally scoring the big thing is minimizing errors, and in the fourth game we made more errors," sophomore outside hitter Brian Nordberg said. "We weren’t as aggressive as we wanted to be."
UCSB dominated the scoreboard in the fifth game until the Anteaters tied it up at 12-12. It went 13-13, and then 14- 14, and finally Kohl helped to clinch an incredibly close 16-14 Gaucho win by notching the game-winning point.
Kohl led the Gauchos with 25 kills, followed by junior outside hitter Andy Rivera, who had 15 kills of his own. Both Nordberg and freshman middle blocker Anders Bengtsson notched 8 kills each, and junior setter Britt Galang had the highest hitting percentage for UCSB.
"Britt Galang came off with a fabulous job for our offense," Head Coach Ken Preston said. "He stabilized us and really was smooth."