In its last regular Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match away from Rob Gym, the UCSB men’s volleyball team once again failed to pull off a victory on the road.
Santa Barbara lost to Irvine 3-1, giving the #9 Anteaters a chance to grab the last remaining spot in the MPSF Tournament.
Irvine (13-17 overall, 7-14 in MPSF) defeated the #8 Gauchos (14-14, 9-12 in MPSF) by scores of 30-25, 30-24, 27-30, 30-26 by out-hitting UCSB .394 to .341.
Jumping to a 7-3 lead in the first frame, the Anteaters did not allow the Gauchos to come anywhere near their lead with senior outside hitter Jimmy Pelzel and freshman Matt Webber both recording six kills in game one alone. After a 13-13 tie in game two, Irvine went on a six-point run and would not let UCSB come within four points throughout the rest of the game.
“We played two good games in the last two games, but there was not a whole lot of energy going on,” Head Coach Ken Preston said.
Tied at 25-25 in game three, sophomore opposite Evan Patak had two kills and a service ace to give Santa Barbara a 28-25 lead and the eventual win. In game four, Irvine capitalized on Gaucho errors to take a 20-17 lead and quickly close the game and match for the Anteaters.
“There were a couple plays that just didn’t go our way in the fourth that just pushed them over the top,” Preston said.
Patak once again led the Gaucho offense, recording 26 kills and two aces. Junior Michael Kennedy followed with 17 kills and six blocks. No other Gauchos finished in double-digit kills.
“Kennedy was very good,” Preston said.
Sophomore setter Bryan Berman came off the bench to set what Preston called a “nice match” with 26 assists. Similarly, junior middle blocker Alejandro Parra came in for senior Justin Adams. Prior to the match, freshman outside hitter Jake Wiens sustained an injury, forcing sophomore Kawika Burdine to take over. Burdine recorded five kills while Parra nailed three. Junior libero Aaron Mansfield kept 12 balls in play.
“We couldn’t get anything going in the first two games,” Preston said. “We just have to play better.”