The UCSB men’s volleyball team’s loss to Pepperdine on Wednesday night is pretty easy to explain: The Gauchos beat themselves.
That’s really the only way a team can put up 15 more kills than its opponent and still lose 3-1. It’s what happens when a team commits 33 attack errors while en route to its fifth straight loss.
All those UCSB errors came in handy for the Waves all night, but they were particularly helpful in the last two sets. Pepperdine won both by two points each, thanks to a combined 17 errors by the Gauchos, who now sit at 6-6 overall and 3-6 in conference play.
Aside from a one-sided second set, which the Waves won 25-12 while hitting at a jaw-dropping .647 percentage, there was no separation between the two teams on Wednesday night in Malibu. Neither team was able to gain a two-point advantage by the 25th point in either of the last two sets, pushing both sets long.
In fact, it took until the 34th point in the third set and the 31st point in the fourth for one team to finally crack open that two-point lead. Both times, that team was Pepperdine, which won both sets on Gaucho attack errors.
Wednesday’s loss certainly wasn’t a result of a lack of Gaucho aggression on the attack. UCSB outkilled Pepperdine 73-58 over the four sets and tied or equaled the Waves in kills in every set.
The Gauchos rode that attack to a come-from-behind 25-23 victory in the first set, closing out a come-from-behind effort with three straight kills from three different players (in order: Corey Chavers, Keenan Sanders and Jacob Delson) to draw first blood. Those kills came only minutes after a five-serve run by Grady Yoder that saw UCSB turn a 20-16 deficit into a 21-20 lead.
Riding high off the comeback, UCSB jumped out to an early lead in the second set with a couple kills each from Chavers and Sanders. There’s a comedown after every high, however, and the Gauchos’ comedown was particularly harsh: UCSB scored only three of the set’s last 18 points and quickly found themselves on the wrong end of a final score of 25-12.
Seventy-three kills as a team means there were a lot of kills to go around, and plenty of Gauchos got theirs on Wednesday night. Senior star Jacob Delson, as usual, led the team with 22 kills, but three other players (Chavers, Sanders and Hayden Boehle) finished in the double digits as well.
Both Chavers and Boehle chipped in double-digit digs, giving the pair double-doubles on the night. It was Boehle’s second double-double of the season and Chavers’ first. Boehle’s older brother, Parker, had 15 digs of his own, giving the Boehle family 25 as a unit.
As expected, outside hitter David Wieczorek led the Pepperdine attack with 20 kills while hitting .488. That’s a good percentage, but it pales in comparison to his counterpart, senior Mitch Penning, who rode a .609 hitting percentage to 14 kills on the night.