The #13 UCSB men’s volleyball team dropped its fourth straight match Friday night against #11 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.

The Bruins needed only 90 minutes to sweep the Gauchos in three games, 30-26, 31-29, 30-22.

“It was like we weren’t there as a team,” sophomore middle blocker Michael Kennedy said. “The first two games we played well, but we can’t seem to push it past 20 in each game. It always happens to us – we have to want it more.”

Sophomore outside hitter Jonathan Acosta led UCLA (5-6, 2-5 in the MPSF) with four kills, four block assists and four digs. Freshman opposite Matt McKinney added 10 kills, four digs and an ace in the victory. Sophomore quick hitter Chris Pe–a and senior quick hitter Scott Morrow combined for 11 blocks, and the Bruins dominated the net, registering 14.5 team blocks to the Gauchos’ five.

“Blocking has been a problem all year for us,” sophomore libero Aaron Mansfield said. “It’s hard to play defense with inconsistent blocking.”

The Gauchos (3-9, 1-6) received another solid performance from senior outside hitter Keith Busam, who registered 11 kills. Outside hitters senior Jan Carlo Zegarra and sophomore Matt Boelk followed Busam with 10 kills each. Mansfield picked up 16 digs.

“UCLA didn’t do anything spectacular,” Mansfield said. “Our offense struggled, and we were struggling to get sideouts. We need to start getting sideouts on a more consistent basis. The offense feeds off them and if we can get them on a more consistent basis we will be a lot better.”

UCSB Head Coach Ken Preston inserted freshman setter Bart Kowalski and Boelk into the starting lineup against the Bruins, and moved junior middle Justin Adams to blocker.

“Bart did a good job setting for us,” Kennedy said. “The coach has been running players in and out of there, but he hasn’t found a lineup that he is confident in yet. He is looking for players to step up.”

Even the addition of new players to the starting lineup could not keep the Gauchos from inching closer out of the cellar of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. San Diego remains the only cushion between Santa Barbara and last place in the conference.

“We have been worried about how we play from 25 on, but our biggest problem is how we play in the middle of the match,” Mansfield said. “We don’t start out strong, and then we get into a rut and ride it for the rest of the match.”

Santa Barbara comes home Tuesday night at 7 against Santa Cruz at The Rob in search of snapping its losing streak.

“We’re in a rut right now and it is going to be hard to get out of,” Mansfield said. “Finishing at .500 in the MPSF is not out of reach if we can get some form of consistency. This league is the toughest in the nation, but I still consider us one of the best in the league. We’re in there every night.”