Last night, the #8 UCSB men’s volleyball team proved its biggest opponent was not on the opposite side of the net, as it notched 33 hitting errors and recorded a .282 clip en route to a five-set loss to #5 Long Beach.
The Gauchos (9-9 overall, 6-7 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation [MPSF]) easily secured the first two sets, but fell out of the groove to lose, 30-23, 30-26, 19-30, 27-30 and 12-15 against the 49ers (13-5, 8-4 MPSF).
“We’ve been getting in the habit of expecting to lose the third game,” junior middle blocker David Kennedy said. “We need to start putting teams away and in three after winning the first two games.”
Early in the first set, Santa Barbara pulled ahead indefinitely with the score knotted at 10. Despite the loss, the Beach outhit UCSB .360 to .258 and also claimed more blocks than Santa Barbara, hitting seven in the first set versus UCSB’s two.
In the second set, the Gauchos were able to pull out the second win behind Kennedy’s serving, notching four early points. With the score at 7-3, junior opposite Evan Patak served up four more points, giving UCSB a lead as high as eight points and allowing the Gauchos to quickly overcome the 49ers.
But UCSB’s momentum quickly slipped away in the beginning of the third set.
“We put ourselves in the bucket after the third game with all our hitting errors,” junior outside hitter Aaron Richman said. “We had a lot of guys sick and injured. We just need to go light in practice tomorrow and come out strong on Friday.”
In the third set, Long Beach held Santa Barbara to its lowest score of the night, in addition to its lowest hitting clip, at .188. In only 19 points, the Gauchos made seven crucial offensive errors that would give Long Beach the ball and ultimately the win. The 49ers went on an early 4-0 run, but Patak knocked down a major kill to put the rally to a halt. After 15 points, the Gauchos suffered the largest deficit of the night with 12 points down. From there, Long Beach scored three more points to win its first set of the night.
“We fall into patterns like this, and it’s really been an Achilles’ heel for us,” UCSB Head Coach Ken Preston said. “We need to work on our transitions and the only way we can do that is to run some scramble drills and hope to get better on that before Friday.”
Late in the final two sets, Long Beach squashed any hopes UCSB had of finishing the night off with a win.
UCSB will host UC San Diego tomorrow night at 7:05 in Rob Gym in hopes of starting a new winning streak.