Now on a three-game win streak, the UCSB men’s volleyball team found itself in fine form after its most recent conquest against the conference opponent Tritons. This was the second and last matchup of the Gauchos mini road trip as they came out on top once again with a 3-0 sweep victory over UCSD.
Last time out, these two teams battled for it all throughout five intense sets. Fortunately, the Santa Barbara home side prevailed in a 3-2 win. This time around the home court was in their counterpart’s favor and the Gauchos got the job done once more and in even better style.
Friday night’s matchup got off to a great start as both teams showed a high intensity that proved they came to play. Most of the first set always had each team within a few points difference of each other, but it wasn’t until UCSB notched on a 3 point run to their lead that put the score at 20-13. Promptly after this San Diego called a time out to attempt to quell the momentum, which it temporarily did. Nonetheless, UCSB’s emphasized practice, of minimizing free point mistakes and focusing on finishing, was newly on display as they coasted through to the end by a final result of 25-20.
In the second set, it was again another close affair until about the halfway point. Then at the 9-9 split mark, the Tritons turned the tables and went on a four point streak that brought the game to 12-9 in their favor. Then as similar as the first set, a timeout from the opposite end halted the game momentum and the Gauchos went on to score 7 points to the Tritons’ single point in that same allotted time. This burst back into the set ultimately gave the visiting Gauchos their second win of the night, at 25-21, and brought the set score to 2-0.
There were many key players involved in UCSB’s crushing road victory last Friday, however it was particularly sophomore setter Randy DeWeese and sophomore middle blocker Brandon Hopper who took over control defensively late in the third set closer; the pair combined for a total of 13 blocks this match. On the night the Gauchos’ hitting percentage was finalized at .326, as compared to the Tritons’ .244; Santa Barbara also had 5 times more aces and almost twice as many blocks, truly showing the difference in class as proven by the Gauchos’ still nationally ranked spot at No. 15.
Following this defeat, San Diego still remains winless in this young conference campaign; whereas this most recent win for UCSB continues to solidify their lead as the number one spot in the Big West Conference standings.
Volleyball returns next week as well, as the Gauchos return home for a short pair of regular season games as they’ll first face off against Fort Wayne on Friday, March 9th, then against No. 11 Ball State on Saturday, March 10th; both games to be held at 7PM in the Robertson Gymnasium.