The #3 UCSB men’s volleyball team overcame two deficits Saturday to defeat #13 Long Beach State for the team’s fourth consecutive match win. The Gauchos (12-3 overall, 10-2 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) defeated the 49ers (6-7 overall, 3-6 MPSF) in three games, 30-19, 30-28 and 30-19, their second sweep of Long Beach this season.
“The thing that helped us was that we served tough,” senior opposite and AVCA Player of the Week Evan Patak said. “That always makes everything else a lot easier for our defense.”
In game one, Long Beach led early with a 10-4 advantage. The Gauchos, however, went on a 7-1 run to tie the game at 11. A few plays later, the Gauchos went on a 10-0 run started by a kill by Patak that also included three aces from the senior opposite. The run was enough to give the Gauchos the victory in the first frame.
“The thing that helped us come back was that Patak went on a service run,” Head Coach Ken Preston said. “That got us back in the game. We’ve done that all year. It’s a good tool to have, a pretty good hitting percentage.”
In game two, the Gauchos led early, however a UCSB attack error led to a 6-3 Long Beach run. The Gauchos would come within two at a score of 14-12, but a Long Beach run of 19-10 pushed the score to 28-22. From that point on the Gauchos staved off the Long Beach attack, scoring eight unanswered points to win game two 30-28. The Gaucho blocking was the key in this game, as UCSB blocked four out of the final five points of the game.
“Our energy level was low,” senior outside hitter Aaron Richman said. “At times, we were playing at their rhythm. We made crucial errors at crucial times. We didn’t come out with the spark they had. Later on, we had big blocks and big serves from Patak – that was what got our energy back.”
The Gauchos secured an early lead in game three and were able to hold on to it the entire game. The largest lead the Gauchos had came at 15-9, well before a 5-1 run gave the Gauchos the game 30-19, and the match 3-0. In this set, the Gauchos out-hit the 49ers .607 to .179.
Santa Barbara had a total of 14 blocks compared to two total team blocks from Long Beach. Senior middle blocker David Kennedy led all players on the court with eight total blocks. Offensively, Patak’s 13 kills led all Gauchos, tying the game-high kills total with 49er junior opposite Norm Hutton. Patak also led all players with four aces, including three in game one. Senior outside hitter Bryan Berman had a career-high .727 hitting clip, with eight kills in 11 attempts.