Shooting itself in the foot all night long, the UCSB men’s volleyball team beat itself on Friday night, gift-wrapping a serendipitous victory for UCLA.

Santa Barbara lost the emotional battle at Rob Gym to the Bruins 3-1. The Bruins knocked off UCSB and its six-match winning streak by a score of 30-26, 29-31, 30-23, 30-23 in front of 567 fans for one of the biggest crowds at Rob Gym this season.

The Gauchos drop to 11-5 on the season and 7-5 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The Bruins improved to 16-3 and 11-2 in the MPSF after completing the season sweep over Santa Barbara. The No. 6 Gauchos fell 3-1 in Los Angeles on Feb. 19 in another close match. Two losses to No. 1 UCLA, including one at home that snapped their winning streak, is not the Gauchos had in mind.

“It is disappointing to lose a match like that,” junior outside hitter Keith Busam said. “We just found a way to beat ourselves.”

Game one was an intense tug-of-war throughout. Behind the strong offensive play of junior outside hitter Jan Carlo Zegarra and the graceful poise of sophomore middle blocker Justin Adams, the Gauchos sparked an opening period strike. Many of Santa Barbara’s 29 hitting errors shackled its first-game progress.

The Gauchos were unable to find a consistent serve and the resulting hitting errors proved to be costly as they lost the opening game by a score of 26-30.

Santa Barbara rebounded in the second game. Senior outside hitter Andy Rivera, who led the Gauchos with 15 kills, inspired the comeback. Every time the Gauchos needed a push, Rivera would come through.

After being down as many as five points midway through the game, UCSB began storming back. At 15-16, after a Gaucho kill stayed just inches inbounds, UCLA’s Matt Komer stormed towards referee Rick Olmstead. During the heated exchange, UCLA Head Coach Al Scates was forced to call a timeout to avoid a yellow card penalty.

Santa Barbara exploited the Bruins’ high emotions to bolster its play. At game point for the Gauchos, the ball exchanged sides five times before UCLA freshman outside hitter Kris Kraushaar hit an error long and out of play.

UCLA kept the match close in game three. However, after the score was deadlocked at 16-16, UCLA began to pull away. UCSB played catch-up for most of the contest and ran out of breath.

A mentally and physically fatigued Gaucho team came out to play UCLA in game four. The Bruins dominated the game, perfectly executing their offense and playing tough defense. Having played two matches in as many days, the exhaustion finally set in for Santa Barbara. The Bruins finished off UCSB 30-23 to end the match.

Senior opposite Ben Koski had 14 kills on the evening, snapping out of a recent slump. Freshman middle blocker Michael Kennedy posted 11 kills while hitting .429.

The two teams were evenly matched on the stat sheet. Santa Barbara had 66 team kills, one more than their counterparts. UCLA had 11 blocks compared to 10.5 posted by UCSB. The 29 Gaucho hitting errors that marked a .245 hitting percentage for UCSB was the downfall. The Bruins posted a .331 hitting percentage and 18 errors.

“I thought we were evenly matched up the middle,” Kennedy said. “They were a simple team. They were just very efficient.”

UCSB will have time to rest up for its next match. Santa Barbara will begin a two-day road trip on Thursday night to face Long Beach State at the Pyramid in another important MPSF contest. The Gauchos will travel to play UCSD on Friday at 7 p.m.