Spring Break did not bring about any change for the No. 15 UCSB men’s volleyball team, as the Gauchos lost two games over the weekend, their seventh and eighth consecutive losses overall.
UCSB dropped matches at UC Irvine and UC San Diego on Friday and Saturday nights, both by a 3-0 score, resulting in the fourth consecutive sweep against the Gauchos.
Santa Barbara currently sits at the bottom of the MPSF with a 5-17 overall record and 3-15 in conference. Despite their eight-game losing streak, UCSB sits three games behind Cal State Northridge for the final playoff spot, with four games left on the season, and holds a slim but possible chance to clinch it.
Friday’s defeat at No. 1 Irvine was the first match in two weeks for the Gauchos after a week off during finals week. UCSB fell 25-16, 25-22, 25-22 to the Anteaters, who are 19-4 overall (15-4 MPSF) after being swept by UCLA on Saturday.
Irvine’s victory was its 10th straight at the time after being led by sophomore outside hitter Jeremy Dejno with a game-high 14 kills. Senior opposite Carson Clark chipped in 11 kills of his own while senior middle blocker Dan McDonnell added seven kills.
Freshman opposite Matt Marsh led the Gauchos with a game-high 14 kills in the match, while junior outside hitter Miles Evans recorded seven kills and three digs. Junior setter Oliver Deutschman led UCSB with 26 assists to go along with three digs and one kill.
Blocking continued to be a concern for the Gauchos in the match, as their eight team blocks were easily bested by Irvine’s 16. The Anteaters also outshot the Gauchos with ease, recording a .346 hitting percentage compared to a mere .205 for UCSB.
Saturday’s match ended in the same fashion as the previous seven matches for the Gauchos: another defeat in conference play. No. 13 UCSD prevailed over UCSB 25-21, 25-18, 25-17 at home for their fifth straight victory.
The Tritons, who were once at the bottom of the conference, now sit in ninth place and only a half game back for the final playoff spot. UCSD improved to 8-16 overall and 6-13 in conference with the victory and has done a complete 180 after opening conference play at 1-13.
San Diego’s winning streak began on March 9 against UCSB when they defeated the Gauchos 3-1. Saturday’s victory gave the Tritons a sweep over the Gauchos on the season and, combined with a 3-1 victory over UCLA on Friday, marks an impressive rise for UCSD this season.
Junior outside hitter Carl Eberts led all players with 16 kills accompanied by six digs for the Tritons, while sophomore outside hitter Vaun Lennon added 13 kills and six digs. Including junior opposite Johl Awerkamp’s 12 kills, UCSD had three players record double-digit kills, compared to none for the Gauchos.
After recording a career-high 19 digs against UCLA on Friday, junior libero Chase Frishman had another career night with a game-high 17 against UCSB. Overall, the Tritons recorded 11 team blocks and hit for an impressive .420 mark.
Marsh led the Gauchos in kills for the second consecutive match, tying Evans with a team-high seven kills apiece. Evans also added seven digs for UCSB, while junior middle blocker Dylan Davis contributed six kills.
UCSB returns home to host Hawaii in matches on Friday and Saturday. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m. in the Thunderdome.