A full crowd at Rob Gym witnessed the UCSB men’s volleyball team’s first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation loss of the 2004 season as the Hawaii Warriors defeated the Gauchos 3-1.
The Warriors (2-1 overall, 1-0 in MPSF) lead the all-time series against Santa Barbara 37-19.
Santa Barbara came out strong, hitting .406 in game one. The two teams remained neck-and-neck from the get-go until a control block and kill by sophomore opposite Evan Patak pushed the Gauchos ahead at 27-25. Two missed serves and an attacking error brought the score to 30-31, forcing UCSB to call a timeout. A Hawaii foot-fault on a serve, followed by a stuff block by junior middle blocker Michael Kennedy and finally a Patak kill ended game one, 33-31.
Although the Gauchos passed more efficiently in game two, Hawaii led throughout, never allowing UCSB to catch up. Junior opposite Mike Nelson came off the bench to pick up the mediocre Gaucho offense and record the final Santa Barbara kill before the Warriors closed game two 30-25.
“We didn’t come out with a killing instinct in the second game,” Head Coach Ken Preston said. “We didn’t have that attitude that we were better than them.”
Games three and four saw numerous Santa Barbara substitutions in an attempt to bring more fire to the Gauchos’ level of play. Sophomore setter Dane Jensen, who has seen the majority of playing time, was replaced by freshman setter Bryan Berman, who finished the final two games of the night with 21 assists to Jensen’s 30. Junior outside hitter Adam Ulfers hit .000 after replacing freshman outside hitter Jake Wiens (.062).
“It’s a match and it’s a war,” Preston said. “The good think about volleyball is that you get to come back and they did.”
Senior middle blocker Justin Adams hit .500 to lead all attackers on the night. Kennedy and Patak followed Adams, hitting .333 and .286, respectively.
Hawaii out-hit the Gauchos .325 to .241. In addition, the Warriors dug 37 balls, whereas the Gauchos had 24 digs. Santa Barbara shined at the net, blocking 24 attacks to Hawaii’s 14 total blocks.
“We won a couple of battles and they won a couple of battles,” Preston said. “They just won more.”
Of these battles, the Gauchos still found trouble at the service line with 24 missed serves to Hawaii’s 17. Santa Barbara made 31 hitting errors and the Warriors, 24.
UCSB will face Hawaii in Rob Gym tonight for the second contest of the series.
“Hawaii is in the driver’s seat,” Preston said. “They had a consistent match. The kids have to get it in their heads that they can win.”