The #9 UCSB men’s volleyball team broke out the brooms this weekend, recording back-to-back sweeps against #14 Pacific and Stanford in the Thunderdome.
The Gauchos (4-5 overall, 3-3 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) defeated Pacific 30-25, 30-27 and 30-27 Friday and performed the same feat the next night, beating Stanford 30-27, 30-18 and 30-19, making for their first win streak of the season.
“It feels good to get this win,” sophomore middle blocker Theo Brunner said. “We had a tough match against BYU earlier in the season and we kept changing our lineup. So it’s good that we’re finding a personality and being able to put teams away going into the second half of the season.”
Against the Tigers (3-5, 2-3 MPSF), Brunner and junior opposite Evan Patak lead the way for the Gauchos with 12 kills apiece, with Brunner hitting .733 on the night.
In the first set, the Gauchos traded points with Pacific until they notched 25 points. From there Santa Barbara did not trail behind again on its way to a first-set victory. For the other sets, the Gauchos did not have to resort to a late run to secure a victory against their ranked opponent.
On Sunday, Patak led the Gauchos with 17 kills and hit at a .556 clip. Junior outside hitter Bryan Berman knocked down the second highest number of kills on the team, with 13 total, and led UCSB with a .667 hitting percentage. Freshman setter Max Klineman led all players with 39 assists.
“We had a lot of balance offensively in tonight and last night’s game,” Patak said. “Lots of our guys stepped up. Max was setting really well and that really opens things up for us because we don’t have to rely on individual players.”
After an early 3-3 tie, Stanford jumped on the Gauchos and led for the next 17 points. Santa Barbara pulled up to a 21-21 tie and never looked back. Berman hit at a .833 pace, helping the Gauchos pull into the second set with a win on their shoulders.
“I was please by our performance tonight, and it was really fun for us to play,” UCSB Head Coach Ken Preston said. “Our chemistry was real good and we’re starting to get a feel for the team and substitutions.”
In the second set, Santa Barbara was more efficient in scoring and held Stanford to its lowest score of the night. Sophomore outside hitter Michael Fisher led the Gauchos with six kills on nine attempts in the second match.
UCSB will take its current two-game winning streak to Long Beach State this Wednesday.