The #4 UCSB men’s volleyball team flew to play #9 Hawaii – determined to prevent a losing streak – and came home with its first two-game sweep against the Warriors since 1987, pulling out a 3-2 victory on Friday and following it up with a 3-1 win on Saturday.
Santa Barbara (10-3 overall, 8-2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) jumped ahead of Hawaii (2-8, 2-6 MPSF) early in Friday’s first set with a 9-5 lead. From then on out, both teams played scrappy, setting the tone for the five-set match. UCSB could not answer back after that, as the Warriors came back to take control in the game 12-9. The Gauchos stayed quiet for the rest of the set and fell 30-24.
Hawaii’s momentum carried over into game two, which initially began as a reversal of the first set, to take the lead at 9-6. The Gauchos took a page out of Hawaii’s book and reeled back to claim the lead at 15-14. An attacking error again shifted control in the set, as Hawaii came back with the score at 17-15 and never looked back to win its last set of the evening 30-28.
After UCSB bounced back to win the third and fourth games, both teams seemed determined to take the deciding game with the score tied at nine early on. In the fifth set, senior opposite Evan Patak played a central role in leading the Gauchos to a Friday night comeback, tallying a game-high 32 kills. With the match tied at 15, Patak recorded a block and a kill to put the Warriors away for good.
In front of a crowd of 3,000 on Saturday, the Gauchos did not wait to pick up the first game as they recorded a 30-26 victory. The Warriors would even the match in the second game with a 30-20 victory, but UCSB did not give up more than 20 points in either of the final two games en route to the victory.
The Gauchos hit an outstanding .475 in the third game to take the lead after a 30-19 game three win and the Warriors did themselves in by hitting -.212 in the fourth and final game. UCSB was impressive at the net, out-blocking Hawaii 20-13 while the Warriors committed 25 attack errors to Santa Barbara’s 17.
Patak again led the team in kills with 18 and torched the Warriors with seven service aces. Junior middle blocker Theo Brunner had a solid weekend and chipped in with 18 and 17 kills respectively in the two matches.
After their first sweep at the hands of Santa Barbara in two decades, the Warriors currently are riding a six-match losing streak.
UCSB comes home this Thursday to take on UC San Diego at 7 p.m. and will play host to #12 Long Beach on Saturday.