In the second round of its series with Hawaii, the UCSB men’s volleyball team defeated the Warriors 3-2 in a five-game match Friday night.
After a disappointing 3-1 loss to the Warriors on Thursday night, the Gauchos came back to hit .310 as a team with junior middle blocker Michael Kennedy leading all hitters with .545.
“The only adjustments we came up with were to do what we could to control the ball and keep it in play,” UCSB Head Coach Kenny Preston said.
Santa Barbara opened game one with a kill by junior outside hitter Adam Ulfers and continued to stay ahead throughout the game. A number of Gaucho errors and blocked hits let the Warriors gain on UCSB until a miscommunication tied the game at 23.
A stuff block by senior middle blocker Justin Adams pulled the Gauchos ahead 25-24 and began a series of serves by sophomore opposite Evan Patak. A Hawaii missed serve ended game one 30-27.
The Warriors took control of game two from the first play, until back-to-back triple blocks by Patak, Kennedy and freshman outside hitter Jake Wiens pulled the Gauchos to a 12-7 lead. From there, Hawaii inched its way back into competition, tying the game at 25 with an ace and ending it 29-31 with a second ace.
“They were loose, we were loose. It was pretty darn close all the way,” Preston said.
Junior outside hitter Nate Wack came off the bench late in game two and continued to play throughout the remainder of the match to hit .231. Wack played a major role in the third game, recording a kill followed by an ace to bring UCSB to a commanding 10-5 lead. Patak and Kennedy commenced game three with a stuff block and ended it 30-20 with a stuff block.
“Our block was really good,” Preston said. “That’s what our strength is.”
Santa Barbara recorded 31 total blocks on the night with only one error. The Warriors had 20 blocks and three errors.
Hawaii hit .516 in game four whereas the Gauchos hit only .270, despite out hitting the Warriors in every other game. Santa Barbara’s timing was off at the middle blocker position, contributing to UCSB’s mediocre level of play and eventual 30-26 loss.
The Gauchos finished game five victorious (15-11) and sent the Warriors home to 1-1 in MPSF play and 2-2 overall.
Wiens led the Gaucho offense in game five, recording kills to tie the game at 3-3 and 4-4. A Patak ace brought UCSB to a 6-4 lead. A questionable call opened the gap to 8-6 until a Wiens kill pulled the Gauchos to a 9-6 lead. The Warriors caught up with Santa Barbara, tying the game at 10, but a Hawaii foot fault on a serve pulled the Gauchos ahead. A series of Patak kills brought the game to 14-11 with Kennedy at the service line. Wack and Adams ended the match with a stuff block.
“Evan [Patak] came through with some big kills,” Preston said.
The split in the Hawaii series advances the Gauchos to 1-1 in MPSF play and 4-2 overall.
“It’s a big building block for the team,” Preston said.
Sophomore libero Alfred Reft, who transferred to Hawaii from UCSB, had 15 digs for the Warriors. Junior libero Aaron Mansfield had 15 digs for the Gauchos.
Patak and Kennedy each had eight blocks and Adams finished with five.