Most visitors to Malibu are hesitant to depart, however, the #12 UCSB men’s volleyball team (2-5, 0-2) are more than ready to be on their way.
The squad was defeated by #9 Pepperdine (4-1, 2-0) in three games 30-8, 30-28 and 30-27 in only one hour and 25 minutes at Firestone Fieldhouse onThursday night.
Pepperdine sophomore outside hitter Sean Rooney led the Waves with 17 kills and posted only two errors for a .556 hitting percentage. Senior middle blocker Brad Keenan added 11 kills on only one error and nine blocks, en route to the Waves third consecutive win.
Sophomore outside hitter Nate Wack led the Gauchos with 14 kills, but also committed nine errors for a .152 hitting percentage. Sophomore libero Aaron Mansfield garnered a match-high 11 digs while freshman setter Dane Jensen posted 33 assists.
Santa Barbara was dominated from the outset, hitting .171 to Pepperdine’s .708 in the first game, and finished the match with a .087 mark overall. Pepperdine had a hitting percentage of .463 for the match. UCSB also had 28 errors, compared to the Waves 10.
The team will now travel to Los Angeles to take on USC at 7 p.m. on Saturday. The Trojans are looking to jump-start their season after starting the year just 1-4 and are coming off of a 6-22 season in 2002.
“They are a team that doesn’t have a whole lot of chemistry,” UCSB Head Coach Ken Preston said. “They graduated their best player, but they do have one of the biggest teams in the country with six guys over 6’7″. I think USC is still searching for a team, but it’s tough to play at USC.”
Mark Dusharme has registered 36 kills in the last two games for the Trojans. Setter Miles McGann has had 89 assists in the last two games for USC. Freshman libero Joao Grangeiro from Rio de Janiero has tallied 23 assists in the last two games, including a match high 16 against #5 Northridge.
“[USC] has a libero from Brazil who is really supposed to be a fabulous player,” Preston said. “He’s supposed to be taking a lot of the court away from the other guys, so we have to get [the ball] to the right guys.”
The Gauchos will be playing on the road for the fifth match in a row, which is sure to test this young team.
“It does get tiring, but at the same time it’s how we find out how good of team we are,” senior outside hitter Keith Busam said. “Last year we had a lot of home games, this year we’re on the road a lot, but with a young team like we have, I would rather be on the road.”