The mantra for the UCSB men’s volleyball team must be one down, and one to go.
The #5 Gauchos (18-10 overall, 13-7 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) inched closer to securing a home game in the MPSF tournament with a sweep of visiting #7 Cal State Northridge. UCSB defeated the Matadors (16-13, 10-10 MPSF) with scores of 30-24, 31-29, 30-21.
In game one, the Gauchos found themselves down by four at the 21-17 mark. But a 6-0 run that saw three errors by CSUN along with three kills from senior opposite Evan Patak, pushed Santa Barbara ahead 23-21 and it did not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game.
Game two, however, was a different story. With the Matadors on the brink of game point at 29-25, the Gauchos posted a 6-0 run to take the game out of Northridge’s hands. During the run, UCSB delayed the Matador game point four times, and Patak tallied two kills and an ace to secure the 31-29 win for Santa Barbara.
In game three, the contest was back and forth at the beginning. Then, the Gauchos took off running with a 5-0 run, giving them the lead at 15-9. The closest the Matadors pulled was within four during the rest of the game.
Patak, who before the game was thirteen kills away from breaking the 2,000 mark, tallied 25 kills to become the second Gaucho in history to reach the 2,000 plateau. The first was Donnie Harris, who holds the record for most career kills with 2,114.
Patak also tallied 2 aces and hit .595 against CSUN. Junior middle blocker Theo Brunner led the Gauchos with a .727 hitting average, with nine kills and one error on 11 attempts. Brunner is on pace to break his single season hitting record of .486, set in 2005, as the sophomore is currently hitting .544. Brunner led all players with four total blocks, while as a team the Gauchos outblocked the Matadors 5.5 to 2.0.
Senior opposite Dan Rhodes lead the Matadors with 13 kills, while sophomore outside hitter Eric Vance was second with nine kills. Freshman setter Sean Pederson and senior middle blocker James Lischer had the only two blocks on the Northridge squad.
With the win, UCSB needs only one more – or a UCLA victory over Long Beach State – to earn a home game in the postseason. The Gauchos have only two more regular season games remaining, including this weeks match at #14 USC.