The Waves crashed down on the #6 UCSB men’s volleyball team Saturday night at Rob Gym as Pepperdine swept the Gauchos 3-0.
The recently surging #4 Waves smashed #6 Santa Barbara 30-27, 30-26, 30-24.
Beginning game one with a five-point scoring run, Pepperdine (9-3 overall, 5-3 MPSF) forced a Santa Barbara timeout early in the contest. Junior outside hitter Nate Wack responded with a kill to help the Gauchos get back in the game. After a net violation, junior middle blocker Michael Kennedy responded with a kill, closing the gap to 9-13. Wack and senior middle blocker Justin Adams tied the game at 14 with a block. Back-and-forth scoring kept the game tied until the Waves inched ahead 23-22 and closed out the game 30-27 with a block on an attack by junior opposite Mike Nelson.
The Gauchos (8-6, 4-5) began game two with a service error, but Kennedy put UCSB on the scoreboard with a kill off a perfect pass by junior libero Aaron Mansfield. Pepperdine jumped to a 6-4 lead, but Santa Barbara fought back, tying the game at eight with another Kennedy kill. The Waves pulled ahead 13-12 off a blocked attempt from freshman outside hitter Jake Wiens. Yet an Adams-Wiens block pushed the Gauchos to a 14-13 lead, forcing a Pepperdine timeout. Adams routinely fought hard in a one-on-one battle with Pepperdine freshman middle blocker Tom Hulse, but Hulse and the Waves won the war by closing the game 30-26.
UCSB Head Coach Ken Preston substituted junior outside hitter Adam Ulfers for Wack in game three to revive Santa Barbara’s stagnant offense. Sophomore opposite Evan Patak responded with four consecutive kills, bringing the score to 7-10. Junior middle blocker Alejandro Parra entered the game for Adams and recorded a kill on his first attempt, closing the gap to 10-11. A series of Gaucho hitting errors forced a UCSB timeout at 21-24. Hulse committed a hitting error on game point, but the Waves would capitalize on another UCSB error to end the game 30-24.
Pepperdine hit just .158 in the first game but improved dramatically in the second and third games to finish the night with a .321 hitting average. Senior outside hitter Fred Winters led all hitters with 22 kills and a .441 percentage on the night. Junior outside hitter Sean Rooney was the only other Wave to hit in double digits but still finished with more kills (15) than any Gaucho.
Santa Barbara hit just .271, but committed 18 hitting errors to the Waves’ 20. Back in action after suffering a knee injury, Patak started the second game and shared a team-high 12 kills with Wiens. Kennedy added seven kills for the Gauchos and Wack posted six.
Defensively, the Waves out-dug UCSB 29 to 28. Mansfield recorded a match-high 12 digs. A taller Pepperdine squad also out-blocked the Gauchos six to four. Standing 6’8″ and matched up against a 6’6″ Adams, Hulse led all blockers with five. The 6’7″ Michael Kennedy, usually a prominent force at the net, recorded only two blocks against 6’11” Pepperdine sophomore middle blocker Andy Hein.