Despite playing only one hour away from Santa Barbara, the road continues to give the UCSB men’s volleyball team trouble as the Gauchos lost last night against No. 4 Pepperdine three sets to none.
The Gauchos now find themselves in a tailspin, currently on a four-game losing streak and still in search of their first victory on the road. Now 5-11 on the season and 3-9 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, UCSB drops to 13th place in the conference with UC San Diego. Meanwhile, the Waves improve to 8-4 overall and in league, and remain unbeaten at home.
Although only having three league wins on the season and sitting in last place, UCSB still maintains a realistic shot at reaching the postseason midway through the season, with many teams in the conference separated by a few games.
UCSB got off to rocky start in the first set of the match. After trading points, the Waves broke through and went on a five-point run to extend their lead to 16-11 before the Gauchos finally were able to answer with a point of their own. With the game quickly getting out of hand, Pepperdine continued its pressure and at one point led by seven points before ultimately winning 25-17.
Pepperdine won the set decisively thanks in large part to its execution on offense and defense, totaling more kills (13 to 8) and blocks (8 to 2) than UCSB for the set.
The second game of the match proved to be more competitive as UCSB was able to keep pace with the Waves for the entire set. Playing point for point, Santa Barbara eventually pulled ahead with a five-point run of its own and led 12-7. However, the lead was short lived after Pepperdine was able to narrow the gap and pulled even at 20 all.
Inconsistent in close games since the beginning of the season, UCSB again could not close out the set, allowing Pepperdine to take control and score five of the next seven points to win the game 25-22.
Just as in the second set, Santa Barbara played well in the early part of the third game, showing signs of recovering from the second set loss. With the game even at 14, sophomore middle blocker Parker Kalmbach and senior opposite Maurice Torres scored the next four Pepperdine points to give the Waves enough momentum to go on another four-point run later in the match.
UCSB failed to find an answer for Torres, who had eight kills in the set, leading Pepperdine to a 25-20 win and a sweep. It was the Gauchos second straight loss by way of sweep and fourth overall this year.
The top performer for the Gauchos was senior middle blocker Dylan Davis, who accumulated seven kills on the night to go along with four blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Kevin Donohue continued his impressive play, leading UCSB with a team-high nine kills.
Santa Barbara will have only one day to rest and prepare itself for a match against No. 9 USC on Thursday at 7 p.m.