In its first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference match, UCSB defeated UCSD on Friday in straight sets, 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-21). The Gauchos were unable to keep the ball rolling during the rest of the conference season’s opening weekend though, as UCSB fell to No. 2 UC Irvine on Saturday in straight sets. The loss brings their record to 3-2, and 1-1 in MPSF play.
Senior outside hitter Jeff Menzel and senior opposite Cullen Irons each finished with team-high 12 kills against the Tritons. Senior middle blocker Scott Slaughter also had a strong outing fot the Gauchos, putting up nine kills of his own and adding a season-high six blocks.
“Scott played well both nights,” Head Coach Rick McLaughlin said. “The numbers don’t even tell how well he’s playing. Offensively, he couldn’t be stopped in San Diego.”
After a dominating performance against UC San Diego, the Gauchos traveled to Irvine on Saturday to take on the Anteaters. Irvine came out strong in front of its home crowd and never let up, defeating UCSB in straight sets (25-21, 25-22, 25-23).
“We didn’t come out to play,” Slaughter said. “Our team came out slow and we played catch-up. Every time we had an opportunity, we didn’t take advantage. It was pretty ugly.”
Irons was the only Gaucho to record double-digit kills with 11, but numerous service errors once again haunted UCSB, which now has a MPSF conference record of 1-1.
“We didn’t do what it takes to win,” McLaughlin said. “Irvine played well, but if we play better, I like our chances when we play them again. We need everybody playing at a certain level.”
Despite Menzel’s and Irons’ strong performances for UCSB in the match, it was the Anteaters on top of the stat sheet on Friday. Carson Clark and Cory Yoder notched 14 and 13 kills respectively for UCI to lead all players.
The road for the Gauchos does not get any easier this week, as they hit the road to play Long Beach State tonight before heading to Cal State Northridge on Friday to take on the Matadors in more MPSF play. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.