The #13 UCSB men’s volleyball team faced #1 Pepperdine Saturday night, and when it was all said and done, the rankings proved true as the Waves (10-1 overall, 9-1 Mountain Pacific Sport Federation) ran away from the Gauchos (4-11, 2-10 MPSF) in straight sets. Santa Barbara came close to nabbing the second set, but fell with scores of 30-24, 36-34, 30-18.
“It was pretty clear that they were number one,” sophomore opposite Cullen Irons said. “But when we were playing in system, playing our game, we definitely could have won.”
Junior middle blocker Sam Moisenco put UCSB up 31-30 in the second set with one of his six kills, and after Pepperdine answered, Irons smashed one down to leave the Gauchos with another set point at 32-31. However, a service error allowed the Waves to run out and take the advantage with an eventual 34-33 lead. While Santa Barbara knotted the set again at 34-34, Pepperdine managed to close out the set on the next two serves.
“Well, we had match point three or four times there,” Irons said. “It’s too bad they got the side out. We had trouble making our serves there at the end, and that hurt us.”
Overall, the Gauchos hit .231 – boosted by a .354 clip in the second stanza – while the Waves hit an overwhelming .455 in the match. Sophomore outside hitter Jeff Menzel led UCSB with 13 kills, but they were tempered by 10 errors and an overall .067 hitting percentage. Irons and junior opposite Jake Rosener added 11 kills apiece, while sophomore libero Andy McGuire led the match with nine digs.
“The second game shows how we can play,” McGuire said. “We just haven’t really been able to put it all together. In a lot of our matches we put together two or three games, but we haven’t been able to sustain that steady play we need.”
The loss comes after a Friday trip to #5 USC that saw Santa Barbara again come up on the wrong side of a four-set decision. UCSB won the second set handily, but couldn’t overtake USC with scores of 30-20, 21-30, 30-25, 30-18. Menzel once again led the Gauchos with a match-high 24 kills, with Irons marking 10. Although Santa Barbara hit a blistering .516 clip in the second set, it couldn’t break the .100 mark in the other three.
“Volleyball is just a game of momentum,” McGuire said. “We’ve been playing pretty inconsistently lately, and that’s keeping us from getting wins.”