WESTWOOD, Calif. – UCLA clawed at the UCSB men’s volleyball team last night in Westwood, scratching a 3-1 loss onto the Gauchos’ Mountain Pacific Sports Federation record.
“We weren’t very consistent. I don’t think it was the setting at all,” UCSB Head Coach Ken Preston said.
The Bruins (7-2 MPSF, 12-2) are ranked #2 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Coaches Poll but are leading in the MPSF standings. Last season, UCLA defeated UCSB twice and currently holds a 107-26 series lead between the two schools.
The #7 Gauchos relied on freshman outside hitter Jake Wiens, who has consistently been putting the ball down in double digits. Against the Bruins, Wiens recorded 15 kills for a .367 hitting percentage.
Another standout for UCSB, junior middle blocker Michael Kennedy leads the Gauchos in blocks with 62 total and 59 assist blocks. In addition, Kennedy is averaging 1.92 kills per game and is third on the team with 77 total kills. He hit .471 on Wednesday night by pounding down eight kills but recorded just one block against Bruin senior quick hitter Chris Pena.
Juniors opposite Mike Nelson and outside hitter Nate Wack added 15 and eight kills, respectively, for the Gauchos. Junior libero Aaron Mansfield kept 11 balls in play.
“Some players drifted in and out of the match,” Preston said. “We came back and played pretty well in the fourth, but overall I was pretty disappointed.”
Setters sophomore Dane Jensen and freshman Bryan Berman shared duties, with Jensen setting the first half of the match and Berman the second. Jensen posted 24 assists while Berman dished 26.
“Bryan did a good job. He set the middles very well and the middles started picking up some kills,” Preston said.
The quick arm of Pena posted 11 kills for UCLA and issued two blocks. Opposites freshman Steve Klosterman and senior J.T. Wenger led the Bruins with 24 and 20 kills, respectively.
“When you don’t play very well, I think it’s a team thing, and I don’t think the team played very well,” Preston said.
Wiens opened game one with a kill. The Gauchos led throughout the game until senior middle blocker Justin Adams closed it with a block, one of his team-high four stuff blocks. Adams hit .467 for UCSB by recording eight kills. Santa Barbara won game one 30-23, but would never lead the match again.
Game two saw a multitude of substitutions with Berman, junior opposite Adam Ulfers, junior middle blocker Alejandro Parra and freshman outside hitter Aaron Richman seeing playing time. UCLA quickly closed the game 30-18.
Although passing accuracy increased in games three and four, the Gauchos were not able to run an effective offense from the outside. Junior outside hitter and lefty Kris Kraushaar pounded a number of kills down the line as UCSB was also unable to respond on defense. The Bruins ended game three 30-25 and game four 30-22.
“UCLA made way fewer errors,” Preston said.