The #9 UCSB men’s volleyball team could not hold on to its two game winning streak last night, as it fell in three quick sets to #3 Long Beach.
Without the presence of one of their best hitters, the Gauchos (4-6 overall, 3-4 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) fell to the 49ers (9-1 overall, 5-1 MPSF) 26-30, 25-30 and 24-30.
“I thought for sure that we could hang with [a former first-ranked team],” freshman setter Max Klineman said. “We were close and had big leads during the night, but we let them go on runs and couldn’t really build momentum on our side.”
Without junior opposite Evan Patak, UCSB led Long Beach in the first set until a 14-14 tie midway through the game. But with a first set .128 hitting percentage, the Gauchos could not keep up with the Beach’s .400 clip. A late 4-0 run helped the 49ers overcome an 18-15 deficit to lead 19-18 and never fell behind again. Santa Barbara also helped the Long Beach victory cause with 11 hitting errors.
“They blocked pretty well, but their offense wasn’t anything special,” junior outside hitter Bryan Berman said. “We didn’t attack very well and I think we can definitely bounce back from that. … [We will] definitely come together as the season goes on and we learn how to close out games and get wins.”
The second set was more of the same thing, as the two teams battled back and forth until a mid-game 13-13 tie, which Long Beach ran away with for a second victory.
By the third set, Santa Barbara managed to stay close to the 49ers, until a late 26-24 deficit. Thanks to back-to-back Long Beach kills followed by two Gaucho errors, the 49ers were able to sweep UCSB back home.
“If [Patak] was in tonight we’d be more consistent and I think that we’re a different team when he’s playing than when he’s not,” Klineman said.
To try and pick up the slack for the Gauchos, Berman led with 13 kills and three Gauchos were able to maintain at least a .300 hitting clip, despite an overall .101 effort put forth by the entire UCSB roster.
Junior outside hitter Derek Otte contributed six kills and two aces for the Gauchos, while sophomore outside hitter Michael Fisher chipped in with seven kills and seven digs of his own, the second most putaways on the Gaucho lineup.
“The team was kind of unbalanced and we had to put in some guys in the right who don’t normally play there,” Berman said. “We didn’t have much of a right-side attack and a lot of guys were trying to pick up the slack.”
Tomorrow night, UCSB continues its road trip down to La Jolla, Calif. to face UC San Diego (0-7 overall, 0-3 MPSF). The Tritons are coming off dual sweeps dealt by both #1 Pepperdine and #13 USC.
“UCSD is a weaker team,” Klineman said. “We know that we have to play well against them, and any other team in our league for that matter.”