UCSB does not have to wait long to avenge last night’s 3-1 loss to #2 BYU (11-3 overall, 7-2 MPSF). The #4 Gauchos (8-6, 6-5) will host a rematch with the Cougars tonight in the Thunderdome at 7:30 p.m.
[media-credit id=20125 align=”alignleft” width=”166″][/media-credit]The Gauchos won the opening game of Thursday’s match but then lost their momentum, dropping three consecutive sets. Senior outside hitter Jeff Menzel led the Gauchos with 17 kills, and senior outside hitter Cullen Irons added 14 more kills. Senior middle blocker Scott Slaughter played through a sprained ankle to put up a team-high three blocks to go along with six kills.
With three serving aces and 17 kills, Cougar freshman outside hitter Taylor Sander jumpstarted his team’s offense. Junior outside hitter Robb Stowell put up an additional 14 kills as BYU regrouped after losing the first game to win the next three in a row to take the match (12-25, 25-23, 25-20, 25-20).
“They’re probably the best blocking team in the league,” Irons said. “They have some disciplined blockers and a balanced attack. They put a lot of balls away. Freshman Taylor Sander could be the best ever when he gets older.”
With an early one game lead, the Gauchos looked ready to dominate BYU. But after losing a close second game following a serving error and an unfortunate injury to Slaughter in the third game, UCSB let BYU build multiple late-game leads, securing a victory for the Cougars.
Heading into this week’s series with BYU, the Gauchos had won three straight matches, including two over conference rival UCLA.
Menzel leads UCSB in kills with 190, with Irons following close behind at 181. After last night’s loss to BYU, the Gauchos now looks to bounce back in front of their home crowd in the Thunderdome rather than the usual Robertson Gymnasium due to a leak.
The rematch between UCSB and BYU is tonight in the Thunderdome. First serve is set for 7:30 p.m.