The #5 UCSB men’s volleyball team celebrated the end of Spring Break by breaking out the brooms as the Gauchos (17-10 overall, 12-7 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) swept the unranked Stanford Cardinal 30-25, 30-26, 30-26. This loss dropped Stanford to 3-21 overall, and 2-16 in MPSF play.
In game one of the evening, the Cardinals were the first to score a point, thanks to a kill by freshman setter Kawika Shoji. However, that would be the only time Stanford would lead all game, as the Gauchos scored four straight points to secure the lead. UCSB would pull ahead by five at 15-10, thanks to a kill by senior outside hitter Aaron Richman. An attack error by freshman opposite Evan Romero would net the victory for the Gauchos at 30-25.
Game two was all Santa Barbara, as the closest the Cardinal would come was at a 3-3 tie. A kill by senior outside hitter Bryan Berman netted the lead for the Gauchos, as UCSB won 30-26. Game three was the closest one all night, as both teams stayed within a couple points of each other for the majority of the game. However, at 21-19, junior middle blocker Theo Brunner rattled off two straight points to pull the Gauchos ahead by four, and Stanford could not recover.
Senior opposite Evan Patak led all players with 18 kills, pushing his career total to 1,987. Brunner was second on the team with a total of 14 kills, and with only one error in 20 chances, led the Gauchos with a .650 hitting percentage. Berman rounded out the trio of Gauchos in double digits with 11 kills. Senior middle blocker David Kennedy led all players with five total blocks. Brunner and sophomore setter Max Klineman were right behind him with four. As a team, the Gauchos hit .447, the first time UCSB hit over .400 since the Feb. 17 sweep of Long Beach State.
“It’s always good to have others contributing than just Patak,” Klineman said. “We look for balance and Theo [Brunner] and Bryan [Berman] did a great job. They were in control. It always helps for us to have three people lead our offense.”
The Gauchos only have three games left in the regular season, with the final home game slated for this weekend against Cal State Northridge on Friday.
“We still have three big games against better teams,” Klineman said. “It was good to win to get back on track, but we can’t look ahead to the postseason just yet.”