It took a trip to the Midwest to do it, but the UCSB men’s volleyball team snapped its three-match losing skid this weekend, defeating Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne on Friday night 3-2 before faltering 3-0 during Sunday’s second match to the Mastodons.
“It was definitely a good weekend,” sophomore outside hitter Nate Wack said. “It was a team we haven’t seen before. They are a good team and I thought we were evenly matched.”
Senior outside hitter Anders Bengtsson and Wack led the way for the Gauchos in the first match, recording 13 kills each. Sophomore middle blocker Michael Kennedy and junior middle blocker/opposite Justin Adams contributed 12 and 11 kills, respectively. Adams played opposite for the first time in his career.
“We were up and down the first night,” sophomore libero Aaron Mansfield said. “[IPFW] didn’t play their best player in the first game, and we struggled serving, but it was nice to come away with the win.”
The Gauchos went the first match without the services of senior outside hitter Jan Carlo Zegarra, who was recovering from a stress fracture in his leg.
Santa Barbara stayed in Fort Wayne for the weekend to play another match against IPFW on Sunday. The Gauchos took a pratfall and lost 30-27, 30-15 and 30-25. IPFW’s hitting percentage of .425 countered Santa Barbara’s meager .207 clip. The Gauchos were also out-killed 49-37, out-dug 24-13, and out-blocked 9-6.
“They were keying off from the service line and we couldn’t get our passing going,” Wack said. “We were doing OK in game one and lost a close one, but in game two they started ripping serves and getting aces.”
No game was more indicative of the Gauchos’ stumble on Sunday than a .071 hitting percentage, a far cry from IPFW’s .591 percentage.
” The second game, we just folded,” Mansfield said.
Adams led UCSB with nine kills, and Zegarra, returning from his stress fracture, recorded eight kills. Freshman setters Dane Jensen and Bart Kowalski each had 15 assists for the Gauchos.
“We have so much potential; we just have to put it all together,” Mansfield said.