The Gauchos snapped a 10-game losing streak to Pepperdine by crushing the eighth-ranked Waves Friday night in three straight sets (25-23, 25-13, 25-17). The win gives the #6 Gauchos some momentum after a straight-set home loss to #1 USC earlier this week and brings the team to 3-3 in conference play.
[media-credit id=20281 align=”alignleft” width=”153″][/media-credit]“We stepped our game up,” senior Scott Slaughter said. “I’ve never seen us zoned in like that. We did everything we needed to do. We jumped on them early, and everybody played well. The team met early before the game and got on the same mindset. We needed to win that game after losing to USC.”
A trio of seniors led the Gaucho assault. Outside opposite hitter Jeff Menzel had 15 kills, middle blocker Slaughter put up 12 and opposite hitter Cullen Irons added 11. Senior setter Vince Devany had 40 assists in the first home victory for UCSB this season.
“Our guys were focused and ready to go from the start,” Head Coach Rick McLaughlin said. “We worked hard after the USC match and had a good week of practice. Vince did a great job of keeping Pepperdine guessing and we passed well as a team. We need to find that focus every night.”
Slaughter and Menzel helped the Gauchos win a close first set after back-to-back aces from Pepperdine brought the score to 24-23. With a hitting percentage of .842 in the second set, UCSB cruised to a 2-0 advantage.
Led by middle blockers Slaughter and sophomore Dylan Davis, the Gaucho defense held the Waves to a .111 hitting percentage in the decisive third set.
“We have two of the best middle blockers in the country,” Menzel said. “When our passing allows them to see more sets, just their presence can make it easy for us hitters. We need to pass the ball well, so Vince can set up big Davis and Slaughter.”
The UCSB men’s volleyball team flies to Hawaii this week for a pair of matches versus the Rainbow Warriors on Thursday and Friday. The next home match for the Gauchos will be Feb. 11 against UCLA.