The Gauchos rode into Malibu and crashed into the Waves last night as the #4 UCSB men’s volleyball team lost to #1 Pepperdine 3-1 in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation semifinals match.
“This Santa Barbara team is the best team I’ve seen out of there in a long time,” Waves Head Coach Marv Dunphy said. “But our focus is on what we do and how to stop our opponents”.
Game one started out close, as both teams exchanged points until a 15-15 tie. It was then that the Waves (26-1 MPSF) burst out with a 4-0 run to take the lead, pushing the score to 19-15. The Gauchos (20-12 MPSF) pulled as close as 21-19, but that would be as close as UCSB would get as Pepperdine won game one 30-23.
Game two also started close with both teams battling to a 12-13 score. However, it was the Gauchos who pulled out a 4-0 run to take the lead at 16-13. UCSB held on to win game two 30-24, evening the match at one game apiece.
After Pepperdine won game three 30-26, the Gauchos entered game four with hopes of extending the match and hopefully their season. However, UCSB was be disappointed as the Waves ran away with the win. At the beginning, the game was close once more with both teams pulling to a 10-10 tie. But the Waves demonstrated why they are the top team in the nation, erupting with a 7-1 run to take the lead at 17-11. The Waves held that lead for the rest of the game, with Pepperdine winning game four 30-20, and the match at 3-1.
The Waves had three players in double digit kill totals. Sophomore opposite Paul Carroll led the Waves with a total of 22 kills, sophomore outside hitter J.D. Schleppenbach was second with 18, and senior middle blocker Greg Gaudino rounded out the trio with 13. Schleppenbach also led the Waves with seven blocks in a game where the Waves out-blocked the Gauchos 13.5 to five. Gaudino led all the Waves with a .524 hitting percentage.
“I give everything to Pepperdine,” Preston said. “They dug 46 balls, they dug well and gave Carroll a lot of swings. They are a very good team.”
The Gauchos only had two players in double digit kill totals. Senior opposite Evan Patak led all players with a match-high 26 kill. Junior middle blocker Theo Brunner was second with 15 kills and led the Gauchos with a .324 average. Senior middle blocker David Kennedy and Patak led the Gauchos with three blocks each. Senior libero Tyson Norton led the Gauchos with seven digs.
“This is a really good team,” Patak said. “This was an awesome season. We had some amazing wins, tough losses. Obviously, I’ve had so much fun with the rest of the seniors. This was an awesome ride.”