Although you couldn’t hear elephants stampede in the Thunderdome last week, plenty of noise was made by the fifth-ranked UCSB men’s volleyball team, who left their large tracks behind, warning their future opponents to beware. Colorado, Pepperdine, Long Beach State, and UCLA all heard Santa Barbara’s stampede loud and clear.
The only sound resembling a thundering herd of large-eared mammals came from the slaughter of Gaucho opponents in the 37th Annual UCSB/Elephant Bar and Restaurant Collegiate Invitational. Santa Barbara came in with high hopes for success as the host team in the tournament, and ended its intense final match with the Bruins satisfied, but hungry for more.
"A big part of this win is that though we played well, we can’t play even-keel," outside hitter [[year?]] Brian Nordberg said. "We have to keep working our butts off in the gym [to stay in top shape for the regular season]."
The Gauchos’ big win to capture the Elephant Bar Tournament championship came at the hands of the second-seeded team and the defending National Champions: UCLA. After falling behind two games to none, Santa Barbara rallied to win against the Bruins in a dramatic way Saturday. The five game victory, 27-30, 20-30, 30-28, 30-26, 15-13, now enables the Gauchos to roll into their regular season opening game Jan. 13 in San Diego to battle the University of California, San Diego at 7:00 p.m.
UCSB triumphed with the leadership of the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, [[year, position?]] Ben Koski. Koski recorded a .344 hitting percentage and paced the Gauchos with team-high statistics of 18 kills and three aces to achieve distinction among his peers.
A strong supporting staff reinforced Koski’s strong games throughout the E-Bar Tournament. Teammates [[year, position?]] Andy Rivera and Nordberg were selected to the All-Tournament Team; Rivera also contributed 11 kills. Sophomore [[position?]] Anders Bengtsson tallied a match-high 11 blocks (three of them solo) and eight kills for Santa Barbara. [[year, position?]] Dave Kohl punched home 14 kills for the host team.
"It was pretty unreal to win this tournament," Nordberg said. "The goal for us was to win and to come away with a big win for our club."
In the first round of the E-Bar Tournament, the Gauchos romped over the twelfth-seeded Colorado in three straight games, 30-17, 30-19, 32-30. Against the fourth-ranked Waves, Santa Barbara defeated Pepperdine in four games, 30-24, 25-30, 32-30, and 30-24. UCSB trudged on to upend the top-seeded Long Beach State in the tournament Friday, setting the stage for the come-from-behind victory over the Bruins.
UCSB’s home opener will be on Saturday, Jan. 20 against the Banana Slugs of University of California, Santa Cruz at 7:05 pm.
"Once the real season rolls around [we have to maintain our composure]," Nordberg said.