By Ryan Porush
Staff Writer

The UCSB men’s volleyball team lost a heartbreaker Wednesday night, falling to Pepperdine in a match at Robertson Gymnasium. The Gauchos were ahead 2-0 but couldn’t close out the Waves before losing in five sets.

“We’re not going to blame it on anybody but us,” junior outside hitter Jeff Menzel said. “We should have closed it out.”

The No. 9 Gauchos fell to 4-6 overall and 4-3 in MPSF, while Pepperdine improved to 3-3 overall and 3-4 in MPSF play.

In the first set, the Gauchos made quick work of the Waves, winning 30-23 behind a 10-to-5 point run to end the game. In the second, it was more of the same for UCSB. Up 29-26, freshman middle blocker Dylan Davis effectively ended the game with a kill on a brilliant pass from junior setter Vince Devany.

Pepperdine triumphed in the third set 30-22, before narrowly winning the fourth 30-28. In the fourth set, UCSB, behind a five-point serving run by junior opposite Cullen Irons, would battle from six points down to tie the score at 25-25. However, service errors plagued the Gauchos as they couldn’t quite hold on, losing 30-28.

Santa Barbara’s 1-2 punch of Menzel and Irons tallied a combined eight kills as the Gauchos gave it all they had in the final game. Yet, it was not enough, as every time UCSB won a point, Pepperdine battled back to win the next. Ultimately, the Gauchos fell to the Waves, 15-13. On the final play of the match, the ball bounced off the raised basketball hoop, crushing any chances UCSB had of salvaging the point and game.

On Friday, UCSB is set to play host to No. 2 USC. In order to prepare for the Trojans, the Gauchos will look to put this tough loss behind them.

“We really are not going to think much about this game. It’s over and we can’t do anything about it,” Menzel said. “We are looking forward to Friday.”