The mighty Waves of #2 Pepperdine flooded the #8 UCSB men’s volleyball team with treacherous waters last night at the Thunderdome, topping the Gauchos three games to one.
Santa Barbara (7-6 overall, 3-6 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) came out on top in game one, winning 30-26. However, Pepperdine (11-2, 7-2) increased the stakes, and in a tsunami of spikes and blocks, drowned the Gauchos in a 30-20, 30-18, 30-28 victory.
"The best team tonight was the team who was serving the best, and unfortunately our best serving came at the end of the fourth game," sophomore middle blocker Justin Adams said. "In the first game we looked good – we were concentrated and intense. But in the second and third games we were looking out for us as individuals and not looking out for the team."
If Pepperdine was looking for an early lead in game one it should have consulted junior outside hitter Andy Rivera before getting its hopes up. Rivera’s three consecutive ace serves solidified an 8-4 Gaucho lead. Santa Barbara increased the gap to seven, 16-9, before the Waves hollered back and narrowed it to two, 20-18. However, UCSB powered ahead with the aid of its blocking to win game one.
"Our chemistry was perfect in the first game," junior setter Britt Galang said. "Our last five games we haven’t come out and won the first game, so it was nice to turn it around and come out strong."
Pepperdine kept the Gauchos within arm’s reach, securing a four-point lead in the first half of game two. Santa Barbara couldn’t cut into the Waves’ lead, despite Adams and sophomore opposite Ben Koski notching a few impressive kills. Pepperdine was on top of its game, hitting .682 to take the second game, 30-20.
"They out-served us, and that led us to not being able to run our offense," junior outside hitter Dave Kohl said. "They weren’t serving as tough in the beginning, but they got better as the game progressed, and that’s what took us out of the match."
In game three, the Waves jumped ahead with an early 7-2 lead. The deficit proved to be insurmountable for UCSB, with the Gauchos bowing down to Pepperdine, 30-18.
With the help of sophomore outside hitter Jan Carlo Zegarra’s hot hand, Santa Barbara kept it close in the fourth game, but still trailed by one, 8-7. The Waves then put UCSB to the test by taking a 22-16 lead. Santa Barbara came out with high marks, surging to a one-point lead, at 26-25. However, a few fumbled balls later, Pepperdine played the role of the victor, winning 30-28.
The Gauchos will be back in action Friday at the Thunderdome against #1 BYU at 7:05 p.m. and again on Sunday against Pacific at 2 p.m.