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The first road game of the season did not go as planned for the No. 9 UCSB men’s volleyball team as it lost in five sets against No. 11 Cal State Northridge Friday night, snapping the team’s three-game win streak.
The Gauchos were outlasted by the Matadors in the final set, dropping the team’s record to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the MPSF. UCSB currently sits in fourth place in conference with five other teams. CSUN improves to 1-1 overall and in conference after ending UCSB’s longest win streak since the 2011 season when it won four straight games.
“I think we just really beat ourselves more than anything. We didn’t take control of the game when we needed to,” senior middle blocker Dylan Davis said. “We let a couple serves get the best of us and we didn’t block as many balls as we wanted to … So overall I think we just weren’t our best [Friday] night.”
CSUN first drew blood in the match as they had a 16-11 lead midway through the first set. The lead proved to be insurmountable for UCSB as it committed 14 errors in the set and lost 25-16.
Despite the defense allowing four aces to Northridge in the second set, the Gauchos extended their lead to 20-14, forcing the Matadors to make two substitutions. After a UCSB timeout, Santa Barbara closed out the set with five consecutive points to win 25-16 and even the match at one apiece. Sophomore outside hitter Austin Kingi had three kills in the set and led all Gauchos in the game with 15 total kills.
The third and fourth sets proved to be much more competitive as each team began playing to their capabilities. Junior outside hitter Brandon Lebrock tied the third set for the Matadors at 18-18 with his fifth kill of the set, giving CSUN enough momentum to win the set 25-20. Santa Barbara was not ready to lose, as they came back in the fourth set to win 25-21 to force a deciding fifth set.
With a lead in the fifth and final set of the match, UCSB was unable to put away a resilient Matador team as CSUN battled back to even the set 11-11. Coming back from a timeout, Northridge scored four of the last six points of the set to earn a narrow 15-13 victory.
“It all depends on our serving pass … I think we kind of let that get away from us in a couple of games,” Davis said. “I think our team is learning what it takes to get through a five-set match.”
Defense gave Northridge the decisive edge in the match as they had 11 total blocks and limited Santa Barbara to a .241 hitting percentage for the game, including not allowing the Gauchos a hitting percentage of over .200 in three of the five sets.
UCSB will have a week off to prepare for its next game against No. 5 UCLA, who defeated the Gauchos in its first game of the season.
A version of this article appeared on page 10 of January 14th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.