The UCSB men’s volleyball team came up just short on the road at UCLA Wednesday night in its pursuit of a second straight win. The Gauchos were within reach of the Bruins, but couldn’t close out the match, eventually falling 3-2.
“We have to be able to look into ourselves and believe we are going to win,” junior outside hitter Jeff Menzel said. “I still have confidence that we can win these types of games, it is just a matter of heart and drive.”
In the loss, Menzel led the way for the Gauchos with 25 kills. Junior opposite Cullen Irons added 20 kills, marking the second time this season in which two Gauchos have notched 20 kills in the same game.
“I’m very happy to see Cullen starting to realize he has to be a large part of the offense on our team … he is starting to take the challenge head-on,” Menzel said.
The Bruins established home court by opening up the first game with a decisive 30-19 victory. The Gauchos battled back, winning the next two sets by seven and six points, respectively.
However, UCLA would not go down without a fight, winning in the fourth 30-25 to force a deciding fifth set. In the fifth set, the Bruins would ultimately prevail at home by a count of 15-11.
“We have a tendency to play really well one game then come out in the next playing like we are good enough to take points off,” Menzel said of his team’s inability to close out teams.
It was the fifth straight match in which the Gauchos were taken to a deciding fifth set. They are now 1-4 in those decisions.
Tonight, the Gauchos (1-5 overall, 1-2 MPSF) seek their second win of the season as they travel to UC Irvine to take on the defending champion Anteaters (4-3, 1-2).
“Any team can beat any team in this conference. We just need to put together a full set of games and we have a shot,” Menzel said.