If scaling the colossal mountain would result in infinite greatness, then Andy Rivera has found his comfort level at the plateau of Mount Olympus.
Senior outside hitter Andy Rivera broke the UCSB men’s volleyball hitting-percentage record on Saturday night, amassing a perfect 1.000 mark on 10 kills out of 10 attempts. Hitting without any errors, Rivera continually located his target and lasered home each kill with precision while dismantling UCSD in a 30-23, 30-13, 30-17 sweep.
Also having a record-breaking performance was freshman middle blocker Michael Kennedy, who, in just his third start of the season, hit the third-best hitting percentage in Gaucho history, attacking 10 out of 11 shots for a .909 percentage. UCSB Head Coach Ken Preston was proud of his team and Rivera.
“When I looked down and saw him at 1.000, I thought, let’s pull him at number one,” Preston said. “It’s a big honor. He’s a good guy; he’s been here a long time.”
With three sweeps in its last three matches, No. 6 Santa Barbara extended its Mountain Pacific Sports Federation record to 6-3 and increased its overall mark to 9-3. The Gauchos also retained its untarnished home record, with the 75-minute slashing of the Tritons (1-11, 0-10).
UCSB dominated the Tritons in all aspects of the match. The Gauchos hit .554 on the night and held UCSD to a woeful .015 hitting percentage. Defensively, Santa Barbara out-blocked its opponent 13.5 to 1, and forced 21 Triton hitting errors.
“They couldn’t really stop us,” Kennedy said. “We didn’t overlook the game tonight.”
Game one was the closest of the match. Although UCSD never had a lead, casual Gaucho hitting mistakes kept the game from getting out of hand. Santa Barbara finished off UCSD after the Gauchos got Rivera his looks.
Game two belonged to the Gauchos and junior outside hitter Keith Busam. Santa Barbara, armed with dynamic team unity and versatile bench production, allowed the Tritons to garner only 13 points. Busam sparked the Gauchos’ ferocious fire with four kills and a .600 hitting percentage to fuel Santa Barbara’s attack. Busam and UCSB held the Tritons to a horrendous .043 hitting clip in the game.
In game three, Preston pulled his starters and gave considerable minutes to reserves. Freshman outside hitter Nathan Wack made his first appearance of his career for UCSB and contributed 4 kills to the team effort.
“Our bench, in my opinion, is the deepest bench out of any team in the country,” freshman libero Aaron Mansfield said. “I think that it works to our advantage because it keeps the players on the court on their toes.”