The #4 UCSB men’s volleyball team packed their brooms over the weekend, sweeping #8 Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne in two nonconference matches. With the wins, Santa Barbara broke its three-match losing streak.
“[Ending the streak] feels really good,” senior outside hitter Aaron Richman said. “A lot of guys were tired and it is important to get our heads on straight, definitely great to get momentum. Hopefully it will get us back on the right track.”
On Friday night the Gauchos (14-6 overall) swept the Mastodons (9-5) 30-21, 30-27 and 34-32. UCSB broke open a close contest in the first game of Friday’s match, thanks to a 4-0 run with senior opposite Evan Patak at the service line. Patak contributed three of his seven aces during the run, helping the Gauchos pull ahead 14-8. A 5-0 run by Santa Barbara ended game one, 30-21.
“We came up with lots of confidence, and we went through all our serves,” Richman said. “We definitely played with aggression, there was lots of energy on the court. We had great performances from Patak and [junior outside hitter Michael] Fisher. There were lots of contributions from our outside hitters; that may have been the difference in the game.”
Patak led the Gauchos with 16 kills, in addition to delivering seven aces. Junior middle blocker Theo Brunner also tallied double-digit kills with 10, and senior middle blocker David Kennedy led with five blocks. For Indiana-Purdue, junior outside hitter C.J. Macias also had 16 kills, while junior outside hitter Josh Stewart led all players with eight blocks. The Mastodons out-blocked the Gauchos 17-9.
The Gauchos swept Indiana-Purdue in Saturday’s match, 30-23, 39-37 and 30-18. This victory was head coach Ken Preston’s 500th win. Preston, in his 29th season, has a record of 500-357, which is good for a .583 winning percentage.
Game one passed without a hitch for the Gauchos, as UCSB cruised to a 30-23 victory. Game two was a different story, as both teams exchanged leads, and game points, until the Gauchos won 39-37. The Gauchos clinched their second sweep in just as many days, with a 30-18 game three victory.
Macias was the only Mastodon to reach double-digit kills, with 10. Junior outside hitter Vitor Oliveira led all players with six blocks, with the Mastodons out-blocking the Gauchos for the second night in a row with 12 blocks to UCSB’s 8.5.
Patak led all players with 15 kills and junior outside hitter Michael Fisher finished with 11 kills. Kowalski finished with a team leading five blocks. The Gauchos out hit the Mastodons .371 to .175.
“This is a big week for us, and coming off a sweep is important,” Richman said. “These wins will put us back on track and get us ready for the playoffs, coming in about a week.”