Two hours after the first ball was served, the UCSB men’s volleyball team walked out of Rob Gym victorious, defeating Quincy 3-1 on Tuesday night.
The Gauchos, now undefeated after their first contest of the season, dropped the Hawks 30-18, 30-25, 23-30, 30-25.
“This was a good warm-up because it allowed us to get in a real game situation,” junior middle blocker Justin Adams said. “Every year the first game is exciting.”
Santa Barbara started off with fire in its eyes, pulling out to a quick 10-5 lead as sophomore setter Dane Jensen began a five-serve run. UCSB kept its lead throughout the first game, never allowing Quincy to catch up. Jensen ended the game with a one-on-one block against the Hawks’ middle blocker off of an over-passed ball on serve-receive.
While the Gauchos had very few hitting errors in game one, games two and three exposed Santa Barbara’s weaker sides.
Multiple hitting errors as well as defensive and service errors led to the eventual replacement of starters for substitutes in game two.
With a court full of UCSB substitutes, the Hawks grabbed an early lead in the third game and refused to give it up, ultimately calling for a fourth game. UCSB Head Coach Kenny Preston kept the subs in for the duration of game three.
“I wanted to see if [the subs] could win, see if they could do it,” Preston said. “I think it’s always good for them to be under pressure too. I don’t want to pretend like I can rescue a match with my starters.”
But rescue he did.
The original six starters and one libero were thrown back into the mix in game four. The rally-scoring format of collegiate volleyball allowed for a back-and-forth contest starting at 12-12 and ending at 17-17 on freshman opposite hitter Evan Patak’s serve, pulling UCSB to a 18-17 lead.
Santa Barbara kept its lead, closing the match on a kill down the line from freshman outside hitter Jake Wiens.
Middle blocker Michael Kennedy played for the Gauchos despite a finger injury. The junior, who finished his sophomore season in total blocks with 103, came off the bench in game two to post a kill on his first attempt.
Junior opposite hitter Mike Nelson replaced Patak late in game two and went on to win the game point for UCSB off of a back-row hit following his own serve.
An explanation for the Gauchos’ drop in attacking accuracy from games one to two, Preston said, could lie in the combination of players on the court.
“We were just out of sync,” he said. “There were a lot of different guys on the court.”
Although expectations were high coming into the game and the level of performance was low, the Gauchos are happy with the win.
“It was nice to go through the motions and get the kinks out,” Adams said.