The defending national runner-up UCSB men’s volleyball team opened their 2012 season with a sixth-place finish at the UCSB/asics Invitational Tournament on Saturday. The No. 14 Gauchos fell to No. 1 BYU in the sixth-place game on Saturday in three sets.
Junior middle blocker Dylan Davis, the only returning starter from last year’s team, paced the Gauchos with three blocks in Saturday’s loss. Freshman outside hitter Kevin Donohue led all players with six digs for UCSB.
Facing a familiar foe in the first game of the tournament, UCSB lost to No. 8 Ohio State 3-2 in a rematch of last year’s NCAA championship game where the Buckeyes came out victorious by the same score.
Outside hitters, senior Blaine Neilsen and junior Miles Evans, led the Gauchos with 13 kills apiece against Ohio State on Friday, taking a 2-0 lead before finally falling in the decisive fifth set 15-9.
After falling to Ohio State, the Gauchos faced Cal State Northridge, dropping the first set before rebounding strong to win the match 3-1. Evans led the Gauchos in kills once again with a game-high 19, while Davis recorded eight blocks.
Sophomore libero Chad Kingi led UCSB with eight digs against Northridge for a Gaucho team starting a young lineup after last year’s veteran squad graduated five of its six starters.
Ending the tournament with a 1-2 record, UCSB has one final match before it begins Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play for the season.
UCSB next plays Cal Baptist on Wednesday at Rob Gym. The match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.