In front of a raucous crowd on the road Friday night, the No. 15 UCSB men’s volleyball team fell in three straight sets to UCLA for its third consecutive loss. The Gauchos fell to the No. 3 Bruins by a score of 25-18, 25-20, 25-19, extending UCLA’s win streak to seven games.
“We were definitely lacking [intensity]. It was a tough team,” junior middle blocker Dylan Davis said. “It was a really crazy environment for this team to play against.”
With the loss, UCSB falls to 2-5 on the season (0-3 MPSF), while UCLA improves to 9-1 (4-0 MPSF).
As a team, the Gauchos hit a lowly .125 compared to a .432 mark posted by the Bruins.
“We weren’t real competitive,” Head Coach Rick McLaughlin said. “We weren’t as good as we were the week before. I don’t know if that was being on the road for the first time, or what it was, but we definitely need to be better.”
Davis led the team with four blocks for the Gauchos, along with two kills. Senior outside hitter Blaine Nielsen led UCSB with nine kills, while junior outside hitter Miles Evans contributed seven, the first time all season he failed to lead the Gauchos in kills.
UCLA proved to be efficient against UCSB, seldom making mistakes and limiting their errors to eight. The Gauchos, meanwhile, had seven errors in each of the three sets for 21 total.
Defensively, the Bruins were on top of their game, blocking 22 shots with senior quick hitter Thomas Amberg posting a game-high six blocks to go along with five kills for a veteran UCLA squad.
“Blocking was not as good as we need it to be, that’s for sure,” McLaughlin said. “We need to keep working on that.”
Blocking continues to be a major concern for UCSB, as the Gauchos improved to block 12 shots, a major upgrade from the mere two against Stanford.
“Blocking is a huge part of the game and I feel like we’re improving little by little,” Davis said. “I think we’re getting a bunch of good touches. But there’s still a lot more for us to do.”
Continuing a Los Angeles road swing, the Gauchos travel to USC on Wednesday in search of their first conference victory. The No. 5 Trojans are 4-3 on the season (3-3 MPSF) and 2-0 in home contests, while UCSB is 0-1 on the road with the loss to UCLA. The Trojans sit in the middle of the pack in the MPSF at sixth place.
Wednesday’s match is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Galen Center.