The #6 UCLA men’s volleyball team efficiently swept #8 UCSB in three sets, preparing for next week’s play-in match in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.
Santa Barbara, (13-14 overall, 9-12 in the MPSF) put up a fight late in the third set, but was unable to pull out a win, losing in dramatic fashion, 23-30, 24-30 and 32-34 to the Bruins (19-12, 11-10 MPSF).
“We were right there in it [with UCLA],” junior outside hitter Aaron Richman said. “UCLA is a smart team, but we were killing ourselves out there with all our errors. … We just have to find our confidence and play smart, error-free volleyball.”
Richman led all players on the night with 15 kills in junior opposite Evan Patak’s absence. Collectively, the Gauchos posted a .200 hitting clip, falling below UCLA’s .368 percentage. In the third set, UCSB connected with its highest hitting percentage on the night at .256.
Santa Barbara jumped on the board early until a 13-13 tie. From there on out, the game went back and forth between the two teams, until it looked like UCSB would win with game point at 29-28. UCLA stayed in the game and eventually won after back-to-back attack errors by the Gauchos.
“We can’t make mistakes against a team like UCLA,” junior middle blocker David Kennedy said. “The loss was no good, but the fact is we battled. All it’s going to take to win the next game is less errors.”
Early in the first and second sets, UCSB fell behind UCLA. The Bruins held the Gauchos to a .091 hitting percentage in the second set, while they went ahead to hit .381 in the second set. Both teams made 14 serving errors on the night, while UCSB had five setting errors to UCLA’s one.
“I think one of the keys to this game was us having trouble setting early on,” sophomore middle blocker Theo Brunner said. “[Freshman setter] Max [Klineman] came in for us and helped us out with our setting. Most of the trouble we had was on the right side tonight. … We’re just as athletic as UCLA and we have to practice harder to pull out another win. [Sophomore libero] Ben Brockman also had a great night for us.”
Santa Barbara will take its current two-game losing streak on the road to face #1 UC Irvine (26-3 overall, 19-2 MPSF) this Saturday, coming off its own three-game win streak over MPSF foes Pacific, Stanford and Northridge last night. The Anteaters haven’t lost a game since Jan. 27 – when they were swept by Hawaii – but have gone on to win 17 consecutive games ever since. Juniors opposite Matt Webber and outside hitter Jayson Jablonsky lead UCI, averaging 4.78 and 4.19 kills, respectively.
The first serve is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. in Irvine.