Although the #9 UCSB men’s volleyball team played without junior opposite Evan Patak for the second night in a row, it was able to turn a complete 180 after its sweep at the hands of #3 Long Beach to complete its own sweep against UC San Diego in La Jolla, Calif. last night.
The Gauchos (5-6 overall, 4-4 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) raised their record to the .500 mark, as they dealt an efficient 30-24, 30-23, 30-24 loss to the Tritons (1-8, 0-6).
“I thought we had a real good team effort today,” freshman setter Max Klineman said. “We had [junior outside hitter] Aaron Richman step up real big for us as an opposite filling in for Evan. We had a lot of energy on court, which we didn’t have yesterday. We also built good leads and were able to keep them.”
Two nights ago, UCSB started off battling for a tie in the middle of the first set, only to fall to Long Beach. Last night, however, it put UCSD away straight from the get-go and never trailed after an early 4-1 lead. A late run helped Santa Barbara secure its first victory in two nights, after converting seven of its last 11 opportunities to score.
In the first set, Santa Barbara recorded an impressive .536 hitting clip, which would not be its highest of the night. Overall, the Gauchos put together a .533 average, led by Richman’s team-high 16 putaways in Patak’s absence.
“Tonight we played a much weaker opponent, but we played very well on our side of the net,” Klineman said. “If we played like [we did Thursday on Wednesday], we would have been much better against Long Beach.”
In the second set, UCSB recorded a night-high .609 hitting percentage and out-blocked San Diego five to two. Junior outside hitter Bryan Berman paced the attack with four kills and a .429 hitting percentage while sophomore outside hitter Michael Fisher added eight kills of his own.
By their third game, the Gauchos played stingy defense early on, taking a quick 12-7 lead that they extended to 18-12. UCSD put together a late run to try to catch up but only came within two points. UCSB never trailed in the third set. Sophomore middle blocker Theo Brunner showed why he is the ucsbgauchos.com Athlete of the Week, recording eight putaways and hitting at a .800 clip.
“A lot of things were clicking tonight,” Klineman said. “[Junior middle blocker] David Kennedy stepped up and Aaron played well for us. We’re feeling real good with our win tonight.”
UCSB return home this weekend to face UC Santa Cruz in Rob Gym tomorrow at 5 p.m.
The Slugs are currently ranked fourth in Division III and are riding a five game win streak, including sweeps of UC Davis and Cal.