The #14 UCSB men’s volleyball team (7-8 overall, 5-6 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) kicked off a four match long road trip with a disappointing loss. The Gauchos dropped an important MPSF match to the reigning NCAA champions, #7 UC Irvine (9-9, 6-7 MPSF). The Anteaters swept the Gauchos with scores of 30-23, 30-25 and 30-28.
“We had a terrible start to the match, and this sort of lingered throughout the match,” junior setter Max Klineman said. “Overall, we made too many errors, and anytime we had any hope of putting them away, we let them back in the game with our own errors.”
Offensively, it was an off night for the Gauchos, as the Anteaters out-hit the Gauchos .234 to .134. Freshman opposite Jeff Menzel led the Gauchos with 11 kills, while he was backed up offensively by senior outside hitters Phil Matthews and Mike Fisher and senior middle blocker Theo Brunner, all with seven kills. Fisher led the Gauchos with an attack percentage of .417, recording seven kills in 12 attempts. Brunner’s .353 percentage was second on the team.
Defensively, the Gauchos out-blocked the Anteaters 16.5 to 7.5. Brunner and Menzel both recorded eight blocks, with sophomore middle Sam Moisenco coming in a close second with seven blocks.
“Both [Brunner and Moisenco] are very, very strong blockers, so it really helps our team to have one of them out there all the time,” Klineman said. “Jeff [Menzel] is getting better at blocking every match, as well. [Assistant Head Coach] Lee [Nelson] helps us at practice with our blocking and adding him to the staff has made a significant difference.”
The Anteaters were led by junior opposite Jon Stellar who recorded 16 kills. His teammate, senior middle blocker Aaron Harrell, led the Anteaters with an attack percentage of .333. Freshman middle Kevin Wynne led the Anteaters with four blocks.
“We have to get back in the gym, and work hard to get back to playing the type of efficient volleyball that will win matches,” Klineman said.