Despite having a few days to relax on the beach and prepare a game plan against the defending national champions, the UCSB men’s volleyball team lost both matches this weekend to #2 Hawaii at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.
The Rainbow Warriors swept the Gauchos on Friday 30-23, 30-17, 30-28 and then dropped Santa Barbara 30-24, 30-27, 27-30, 30-23 on Saturday.
UCSB, playing its first match against the Warriors since falling to them in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation playoffs last year, was outhit .333 to .175 in the first match.
All-American senior outside hitter Costas Theocharidis led the Warriors with 13 kills, seven digs and two aces. Senior outside hitter Tony Ching added 12 kills and 5 aces along while posting a .435 hitting percentage for the match. Former Gaucho and senior middle blocker Brian Nordberg managed only three kills for the match, but helped hold the UCSB offense in check with four blocks.
UCSB sophomore outside hitter Adam Ulfers had a team-high 12 kills and shared a match-high five blocks with junior middle blocker Justin Adams. Adams also added four kills on a .400 hitting percentage. Sophomore libero Aaron Mansfield recorded a match-high in digs with nine and freshman setter Bart Kowalski added 34 assists in the loss.
Santa Barbara (9-19, 4-16 in the MPSF) made the second match more competitive Saturday night. The Gauchos came out fighting, but fell in the first game. The Gauchos held a 15-14 lead going into the media timeout in the second game and maintained the lead throughout the match. A four-point run by the Warriors in the game put Hawaii up 2-0.
Both teams struggled offensively in the third game, with each team hitting in the low .100s. Three consecutive Gaucho points at the end of the game pulled Santa Barbara closer at 2-1. But the rally wasn’t enough as Hawaii used a .500 hitting percentage in game four to upend the Gauchos.
Ulfers again led the team in kills with 15. Sophomore outside hitter Nate Wack added 13 kills, and senior outside hitter Keith Busam had 11 along with two aces. Mansfield led UCSB in digs with 13, and freshman setter Dane Jensen had 51 assists.
Nordberg once again played a big role for the Warriors in the second game, registering a career-high eight blocks to go along with seven kills and a .417 hitting percentage. Ching led all players with 17 kills, Theocharidis contributed 16 and five Warriors were in the double digits in kills.
The Gauchos conclude their regular season this weekend at home against Long Beach State on Friday and UC San Diego on Saturday. They will be the final matches for seniors Busam, outside hitters Anders Bengtsson and Jan Carlo Zegarra and middle blocker Dan Terry.