Securing a win before facing a strong Long Beach State, the UCSB men’s volleyball team defeated Division II UC San Diego in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation three-game sweep last night in Rob Gym.
Hitting a solid .526, the Gauchos (8-6 overall, 4-5 MPSF) crushed the Tritons (6-9, 2-7) by scores of 30-21, 30-28, 30-17.
“I thought we played a good match,” UCSB Head Coach Kenny Preston said. “I thought we served well and passed well.”
In his first start, freshman setter Bryan Berman led the Gaucho offense by setting 43 assists.
“For Berman’s first start, he did a nice job,” Preston said.
While Berman set a diverse offense in game one, junior outside hitter Nate Wack took control of games two and three, recording kills from the outside and back row. Wack pounded down 12 balls for UCSB to hit .786 on the night.
“Nate Wack played a good match,” Preston said. “He put away just about everything we gave him.”
Sophomore opposite Evan Patak recorded 13 kills, five digs and four. At the middle blocker position, senior Justin Adams and juniors Alejandro Parra and Michael Kennedy all turned out stellar performances, with each player hitting .500 or better.
The Gauchos held UCSD to a .280 hitting percentage. At the net, Kennedy, who is averaging 1.46 blocks per game, ended six rallies with stuff blocks. A scrappy Santa Barbara defense recorded 25 as a team.
“We need to improve that aspect of our game,” Preston said. “We out-dug them, which is good.”
Junior libero Aaron Mansfield saved 11 plays from extinction to add to his 126 season digs. Mansfield ranks fourth in the MPSF with 2.76 digs per game.
Although #7 Santa Barbara outplayed #13 UCSD in all aspects of the game, the Gauchos did not take a commanding lead from the start. Serve by serve, UCSB slowly built a 14-8 lead off a triple block by Adams, Wack and Patak, and ended the game on a Kennedy kill.
Despite out-hitting the Tritons .565 to .188 in game one, Santa Barbara’s offense slowed down substantially in game two. Sophomore outside hitter Jeff Urton and junior outside hitters Jon Daze and Adam Toren picked up the Triton offense, propelling them to a .389 percentage in game two. Senior opposite Jim Waller and Toren were the only Tritons to hit in double digits, recording 12 and 15 kills, respectively.
“Their outside hitters got a little hot in the second game,” Preston said.
The teams were deadlocked at least six times in game two as Santa Barbara struggled to break away from the Tritons until the score read 28-27. A Wack-Kennedy-Patak stuff block ended a play full of free-ball and off-speed shots, and Kennedy recorded a kill on the next play when the trio went up for another stuff block to end the game for the Gauchos.
Game three saw three consecutive Berman service aces to give the Gauchos a 14-6 lead. With his powerful serving, Berman forced UCSD Head Coach Ron Larsen to substitute Daze for Toren before calling a timeout. After a Berman missed serve, Wack returned the ball to Gaucho possession with a kill. Santa Barbara would not let the Tritons get within eight points and ended the match with a block by Kennedy and Wack.
“There wasn’t a lot of pressure put on us, but when the pressure came in game two, we responded with a couple [of] good blocks in the end,” Preston said.