The No. 13 ranked UCSB men’s volleyball team opened MPSF play this weekend with two tough home losses coming at the hands of a pair of top-15 teams.
Falling Friday to Pacific, the Gauchos (2-4 overall, 0-2 MPSF) improved with a tough showing against Stanford on Saturday to somewhat salvage the weekend.
“I was pretty happy with the way that we competed [against Stanford], as opposed to [against Pacific],” Head Coach Rick McLaughlin said.
Stanford, coming off a 3-0 loss to UCLA on Friday, defeated the Gauchos 3-1 in Saturday night’s match to improve to 4-1 (2-1 MPSF). The No. 4 Cardinal outpaced UCSB 25-22, 25-21 in the first two sets, both tightly contested until the very end.
Down 2-0, the Gauchos bounced back with a strong showing in the third set to extend the game.
“We clicked in that set really well,” junior middle blocker Dylan Davis said. “Everyone’s focus and energy was a lot more positive than it was last night.”
UCSB rebounded in the third set with a 25-19 victory fueled by strong play from junior outside hitter Miles Evans, who registered eight of his career-high 20 kills in the frame. Freshman outside hitter Kevin Donohue also sparked the Gaucho offensive attack with four of his five kills coming in the third set.
Any type of comeback effort, however, shortly ended with a 25-18 Stanford victory in the fourth and final set. Sophomore middle blocker Evan Licht registered a career-high 12 kills in the loss, while sophomore libero Chad Kingi contributed a team-high seven digs.
On Friday, Pacific defeated UCSB 3-1, taking the first two sets before the Gauchos rebounded with a 25-20 victory in the third. The Tigers made quick work of UCSB in the fourth set, concluding with a 9-0 run and winning 25-13.
Although falling in both matches, UCSB showed signs of promise, particularly in Saturday’s bout against Stanford.
“We played pretty consistent, we were just playing one of the top five teams in the country and we were right with them,” McLaughlin said.
UCSB continues play on Friday, Jan. 27, when it travels to UCLA.