Facing the No. 1 team in the country, the No. 12 UCSB men’s volleyball team was unable to defeat UC Irvine last night on the road, losing 3-1 to the Anteaters for the second time this season. Despite winning the first set, it was ultimately the lack of defense by the Gauchos that led to their defeat.
“They went on two really big runs in game two and game four,” sophomore outside hitter Kevin Donohue said. “When you let a team score four or five points in a row, you’re going to let them win the game.”
The Gauchos have now lost their last two games, falling to 5-9 overall and 3-7 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. UCI improves to 11-3 on the season and 8-3 in conference.
Picking up where it left off in recent games, UCSB continued its consistent play in the first set. Not allowing Irvine to go on a run at any point in the game, the Gauchos took advantage of UCI, who was struggling to develop offensive chemistry from the beginning.
Santa Barbara was able to eventually pull away and went on a 5-1 run to increase its lead to 19-16. With an impressive defensive display, UCSB closed out the Anteaters in the later part of the set to win the first game 25-20.
Irvine began to find an offensive rhythm entering the second set, quickly erasing an early three-point deficit to draw the match at 7-7. However, UCSB was no longer able to contain the Anteater attack, allowing a six-point run. UCI closed out the set with another big run, scoring four of the last six points to win 25-19.
“I think the change of momentum actually happened in the middle of game two when they went on their service run,” Donohue said. “From that point forward it was tough for our team to rebound.”
After dropping the third set 25-21, UCSB could not overcome another run by Irvine in the fourth game and dropped the set 25-22.
Nevertheless, UCSB will have no time to lament over its loss, having to quickly rebound and prepare for its next match against UC San Diego (4-10 overall, 2-8 MPSF) tonight. In its first match, the Gauchos defeated the Tritons 3-1.
“We’re not going to do a whole different lineup or anything major as far as our game plan,” senior outside hitter Miles Evans said. “What’s worked, worked and we’re going to try that again.”
UCSB allowed three different Triton players to score double-digit kills in its first encounter and realize defense will be critical in stopping its current losing.
“The one thing we want to do is make sure their best players, or the players that have been producing – we’re really sticking on those guys to make sure they’re not playing as well,” Evans said.
Tonight’s match against UCSD is scheduled for 7 p.m.