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In its first road trip of the season, the UCSB men’s volleyball team came up empty on both of its games, getting swept by Stanford Saturday and losing to Pacific in a tough five-set match Friday. The Gauchos now find themselves on a season-high four-game losing streak after winning its previous three matches.
“We did some good things definitely, but obviously we lost so we have a lot more room to improve,” sophomore opposite Matt Marsh said. “We’re really tight with teams and then we’ll give up four points and they’ll end up winning by that much. I feel like we still definitely have potential.”
UC Santa Barbara drops to last place overall in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, currently sitting at 12th in the conference with a record of 3-5 (1-4 MPSF). With the victories, Pacific moves to 3-2 overall (2-2 MPSF), while Stanford improves to 6-2 and 3-2 in league.
Entering Saturday’s match against Stanford, the Gauchos were faced with doing something no other team has accomplished yet this season – beating the Cardinal on their own home court. Things got off to a rocky start for UCSB as it trailed 19-13 before eventually losing the set 25-19.
Santa Barbara got down early again in the second set, getting as close as 4-4 before the Cardinal were able to take full control of the set. Struggling offensively, the Gauchos had a lowly .067 hitting percentage for the set and were unable to stop freshman setter James Shaw from distributing the ball, allowing him 34 assists for the match.
Despite a resilient effort in the third set, UCSB could not overcome its seven errors in the set and lost 25-22.
“I thought we passed really well, we served well, but Stanford came out and they came out ready to play,” sophomore outside hitter Kevin Donohue said. “I give all the credit to Stanford. They did a really good job at containing our offense and they really hit for a high percentage.”
Santa Barbara was just as unlucky Friday night against Pacific in a back-and-forth contest. In the first set with each team not being able to pull away from each other, two consecutive blocks eventually allowed UCSB to close out the set and win 28-26. Pacific answered back in the next set and evened the match at one apiece.
With the match even at two sets, the Gauchos entered their third five-set game of the season, where they were still winless. Down 12-9, the Tigers prevented a UCSB comeback to win the decisive set 15-12.
“There were spurts in games one [and] two where we really played at a high level of volleyball,” Donohue said. “But, unfortunately the low level of performance kind of overtook the good spurts we showed and we dropped that match.”
Santa Barbara still had standout performances from many of its players, including Marsh who finished with a career-high 17 kills. Senior outside hitter Dylan Davis also finished with a career-high, recording 14 blocks, second-best in a single game in UCSB history.
UCSB will have no time to look back at its performance as it begins a four-game homestand starting Tuesday against Princeton.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of January 28th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.