It’s back to the drawing board for the #7 UCSB men’s volleyball team.
On Wednesday night the Gauchos tried to work out a few kinks against #3 Long Beach State. However, the 49ers (9-2 overall, 7-2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) crippled Santa Barbara’s momentum, and UCSB (5-5, 3-5) limped away in a 30-25, 30-22, 30-26 loss.
"Things aren’t going our way right now," UCSB Head Coach Ken Preston said. "It’s not easy to put your finger on the problem when a team hits a downward cycle."
The Gauchos came out with intensity in the early going of the first set. However, with the score tied at 16, LBSU pulled ahead with three consecutive points. Long Beach widened its lead to 28-20 before UCSB fought back. But it was a case of too little, too late, and Santa Barbara lost 30-25.
"In the middle of the first game, they had a three-point run," Preston said. "We’ve lost game one in seven of our last eight matches, which means that we aren’t doing something right."
UCSB jumped out with a 5-4 lead in game two, but quickly lost its edge. The 49ers took advantage of the Gauchos’ nine hitting errors and .081 hitting percentage, winning easily 30-22.
"There is no future in hitting errors," sophomore outside hitter Jan Carlo Zegarra said. "We didn’t start out as bad as we’ve been starting lately, but then we had some hitting errors and that changed the whole mood."
Game three was back and forth, but in the end it was a service error that gave Long Beach point 29 and a hitting error on the Gauchos’ side of the net that ended the match, 30-26.
UCSB now must fix its hitting problems quickly, before facing off against La Verne tonight at the Thunderdome.
"This is the first game we’ve lost where I can’t really put my finger on what went wrong," sophomore outside hitter Brian Nordberg said. "A big problem we’ve been having is that we’re not playing with confidence. We have a lot of physical talent that isn’t being brought into the game. If we execute well against La Verne, it will be a step in the right direction."