The #7 UCSB men’s volleyball team stepped it down against a roster stacked with freshman last night, but still pulled off a sweep against non-conference opponent Lewis University.
Santa Barbara (11-9 overall, 7-7 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation [MPSF]) came out ready to go, winning 30-24, 30-25 and sending the Flyers (5-9 overall) home 30-17 in the final set.
“Judging by how we were playing tonight, you would think we were playing a bunch of freshmen [in our lineup],” UCSB Head Coach Ken Preston said. “Playing down to an opponent’s level is not something the coach wants to see.”
With a quick kill from junior middle blocker David Kennedy in the first game, it looked like the Gauchos were ready to come out firing. But after a few serving and attacking errors on both sides of the net, the teams found themselves stuck in a tie.
It wasn’t until sophomore middle blocker Theo Brunner sparked a serving run, behind one of junior outside hitter Aaron Richman’s kills, that UCSB was able to pull ahead, 8-5. Later in the set, an 11-2 Gaucho run, highlighted by another serving streak, putting the Gauchos up 19-11. Thirteen points later, a final put away by junior outside hitter Bryan Berman was enough to cap off the game for Santa Barbara.
Although they took an early 1-0 lead, the UCSB allowed a 10-2 scoring run by the Flyers late in the set.
“We’re going to get smashed if we play like that in our league,” Richman said. “We’ve got some big games ahead of us in the upcoming week and we can’t commit a lot of errors.”
In the second set, freshman setter Max Klineman stepped up for the Gauchos, who went on an early 8-0 run. With the score at 16-10, Santa Barbara served into the net twice helping Lewis put together another late scoring run.
Back-to-back blocks by freshman middle blocker Craig Boller brought the Flyers within two points of Santa Barbara at 22-20. A crucial serving error ultimately cost Lewis’ freshmen roster the game, as the Gauchos pulled out their the second win on the night.
“We didn’t do a lot of the same things we usually do before a game,” Preston said. “We didn’t know anything about the team really, and didn’t watch any films, so maybe I was subconsciously sending a message to the team to play down.”
The third set was the most efficient for Santa Barbara, who brought in sophomore middle outside hitter Michael Fisher, senior setter Dave Jensen and junior outside hitter Derek Otte. Behind Fisher, Jensen, Otte and junior opposite Evan Patak, Santa Barbara never trailed in game three.
Patak led the all players with 15 kills while Brunner and Berman added eight kills apiece. Freshman outside hitter Drew Pickering paced the Flyers with 13 kills.
Next, UCSB returns to MPSF play, traveling to Stanford and Pacific.