The 2008 UCSB men’s volleyball team will be losing a large part of its offense next year. Evan Patak, the 6’8″ opposite from Pleasanton, Calif., has made his presence known with his volleyball skills during his four-year tenure as a Gaucho.
After his redshirt year in 2003, Patak came out firing in his first official year as a NCAA volleyball player. Patak started swinging early, averaging 4.75 kills per game (good for 5th in the nation) and .385 aces per game. In the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, Patak led the league in kills and aces, with an average of 5.04 kills per conference game, and .406 aces per game. His season-high 32 kills against Cal State Northridge helped his nomination to the MPSF All-American second team, and helped him secure the American Volleyball Coaches Association Newcomer of the Year.
“[My redshirt year] was a year of practice, surrounding myself with a higher level of volleyball,” Patak said. “I saw the level of competition I was going to be a part of. The summer after, when I played overseas, definitely helped as well.”
In 2005, Patak once again led the Gauchos in the majority of offensive categories. With his team-leading 586 kills, Patak earned an All-American first team nomination for the MPSF and AVCA. During the season, Patak was named MPSF player of the week twice and AVCA national player of the week once. His 48 kills at Stanford was a new NCAA DI-II rally scoring era record, and his 58 aces broke the school record for aces in a season.
Despite a shortened season in 2006, where Patak started 19 of his 20 matches, he still led the nation in kills (5.88) and aces (.722). Patak also led the conference with an average of 6.06 kills per game, and .741 aces per game. Overall, Patak had double figures in kill totals in 19 of the 20 matches, and hit 20 or more in 12 matches.
Offensively, Patak’s most successful season came during his senior year. Patak led the nation all season with an average of 5.78 kills and .948 aces. In the MPSF, Patak’s 5.98 kills and 1.02 aces, both of which led the conference, resulted in his being named MPSF Co-Player of the Week for two consecutive weeks, and he was the only player in the MPSF to receive the honor twice. With 671 kills this season, Patak added to his career total of 2,112 kills. Patak recorded 30 or more kills in seven matches and a season-high 40 kills at Pacific on Jan. 12.
Ace-wise, Patak’s season total of 110 shattered the Gaucho record, and his 255 career aces is the all-time aces record at UCSB. For the second and final time, Patak was named to the AVCA and MPSF All-American first team as the Gauchos ended their season during the semifinals at Pepperdine.
“The first couple of years, you don’t realize the do or die mindset, don’t understand the sense of emergency,” Patak said. “But being a senior, it’s different. For the first three years, its, ‘there’s always next year’. You have to play each year like it’s your last.”
With this illustrious career under his belt, the future looks so bright for Patak that he has to wear shades.
“I just want to play volleyball until it hurts too much,” Patak said. “I just want to be a professional athlete and put off getting a real job as long as possible. This is a rare opportunity. To have the opportunity, it would be a waste not to take it.”