Yesterday saw the defeat of Troy all over again, and this time no horses were involved. The #3 UCSB men’s volleyball team swept the #13 Trojans last night for its third straight win.
In game one, the Gauchos (8-2 overall, 6-1 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) exploded to an 8-0 lead thanks to a couple of blocks by the Gauchos – a run that was ended on a service error by senior opposite Evan Patak. However, USC (3-6 overall, 2-4 MPSF) would only come within nine points at 14-5 before the Gauchos went on to win game one 30-16.
“You don’t want to play on their level,” junior outside hitter Michael Fisher said. “We just served them off the court. It’s just taking care of our business.”
Game two started off with a 5-2 run from the Gauchos, until USC was forced to call a time out. But whatever Head Coach Bill Ferguson told his Trojan squad did not help, as the Gauchos continued their 15-9 run, highlighted by an ace from senior outside hitter Aaron Richman. The Gauchos dominated again, winning game two 30-16.
Game three was no different, as the Gauchos quickly jumped to an early lead. The Trojans did put up a fight, tying the game at 3-3 and coming within four at 8-4 but three consecutive Patak aces put the Gauchos on top with a final score of 30-18.
“Evan [Patak] is on an unbelievable run right now,” Head Coach Ken Preston said. “We put them on their heels. Patak extended his reputation. … They are expecting him to bring it. When we start him serving, [it] puts them on their heels early on in the game.”
The Trojans were led by junior outside hitter Juan Figueroa, who recorded seven kills and a .308 hitting percentage, as well as freshman middle blocker Hunter Current, who had six kills and a .556 hitting clip.
Patak led the Gauchos with 12 kills while junior middle blocker Theo Brunner followed closely with 10. As a team, the Gauchos outblocked USC 11.5 to three. Serving-wise, UCSB finished with 12 aces at the line, the third consecutive match in which the Gauchos finished with 10 or more aces.
“We really went to the serving line aggressively,” Preston said. “We had 15 errors, but had 12 aces – that was a good ratio. … Evan was on, [senior outside hitter Bryan] Berman was on, and our middles were unstoppable, obviously.”
The Gauchos continue their home swing this Saturday with a matchup against #5 Pepperdine (6-1, 5-1 MPSF). This match will pit the #1 scorer, Patak, against the #2 scorer, Pepperdine’s sophomore outside hitter Paul Carroll. Patak leads the MPSF in points, kills and aces, while Carroll is second in all three categories. Senior middle blocker Tom Hulse was recently voted the MPSF player of the week for his role in the Wave’s victories over UCLA (3-6, 1-5 MPSF) and then #1 Irvine (10-1, 5-1 MPSF). Hulse recorded eight kills and a career high 14 blocks.
“Pepperdine is a hard team to judge,” Richman said. “Every team is hard because any of them could have a breakout game. This is a tight league, very competitive. We come ready to play every night, and take it one game at a time right now.”
Saturday’s opening serve is set for 7 p.m in Rob Gym.