The harder the UCSB men’s volleyball team tries, the harder they fall.
The Gauchos were beaten in five games Friday night at # 8 Pacific, 26-30, 30-28, 22-30, 30-20 and 15-9. Santa Barbara lost again the next night at Stanford, 31-33, 30-21, 30-20, 30-26.
“We’re not playing horribly,” sophomore outside hitter Adam Ulfers said, “It just seems like we don’t have the heart.”
The Gauchos hit for a .545 percentage in the first game and held a two- to-one game lead Friday night in Stockton. But UCSB dropped the next two behind a .029 hitting percentage in game four and a .133 percentage in the deciding game.
“We played well, but it’s the same old story,” senior outside hitter Jan Carlos Zegarra said. “We got up against Pacific and then when we got late in the match we couldn’t finish it.”
The star of the game was Ulfers, who tallied a match-high 33 kills in the game, tripling Zegarra’s 11 kills.
“I don’t really know what happened, I got good sets and some good swings,” Ulfers said. “I wouldn’t say it’s the best game of my life – I had some great games in high school – but on this level of competition, I would say it is the best game I’ve had at UCSB.”
Senior outside hitter Martin Berntsen led the Tigers (11-7, 8-4) with 18 kills and contributed 13 digs. Pacific out hit the Gauchos .331 to .253 for the match, and Santa Barbara’s 34 hitting errors helped finish themselves off.
“We just came out flat,” Zegarra said, “We’re like that, we’re not consistent. But that’s what happens when you hit in the negative.”
UCSB (6-14, 3-11) entered Maples Pavilion on fire Saturday night and used a .341 hitting percentage to take game one from #9 Stanford. But 32 hitting errors and a – .041 hitting percentage doomed Santa Barbara again, as Stanford swept the final three games to down the Gauchos.
“It was pretty much a lack of consistency,” Ulfers said. “A lot of guys were playing well, just not at the same time. We have the talent; it’s just difficult for all the talent to work at the same time.”
A pair of Williams led the Cardinal (9-8, 7-6) to victory. Senior outside hitters William Strickland and William Curtis tied for a match-high 17 kills, while sophomore outside hitter David Vogel added 10. Stanford out blocked the Cardinal 18.5 – 9.5 for the match.
Zegarra and senior outside hitter Keith Busam led the Gauchos with 15 kills, and junior middle blocker Justin Adams contributed 12. Freshman setter Bart Kowalski finished with 125 assists for the weekend.
Top ranked Pepperdine (13-2, 11-1), coming off a loss to #2 Hawaii Friday night, heads to Santa Barbara on Wednesday to face the Gauchos at 7 at The Rob.