Gauchos Snap Losing Streak, Claim First Conference Win

Chris Hartig (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Chris Hartig (Photo by Tony Mastres)

The fifteenth-ranked Gauchos were able to simulataneously snap a four-match losing streak and pick up their first conference win of the season by way of an upset over No. 8 Pepperdine on Friday night at the Firestone Fieldhouse. With the win, UCSB's record improves to 3-6, 1-4. Pepperdine falls to 6-4, 5-3.

The Gauchos were able to claim victory by correcting many of the problems that have ailed them so far this season. For the night, the Gauchos recorded 15.5 team blocks, a season-high, while also maintaining a .267 team hitting percentage, which ranked as their third best attacking performance of the season. UCSB hit .412 as a team during the fourth game.

Many UCSB players had their best statistical match yet on Friday night, which is often a winning formula. Freshman outside hitter Kevin Donohue stood out the most, pacing the Gauchos with career highs in both kills (17) and digs (9). Junior outside hitter Miles Evans had another strong attacking night, picking up 14 kills.

Junior setter Oliver Deutschman showed off some of his versatility against the Waves, setting career highs in digs (8) and blocks (4), while also accruing 42 assists. Sophomore libero Chad Kingi tied Donohue for the team lead in digs with 9.

Seeing their most extended action of the season, freshman outside hitter Weston Nielsen picked up five kills and five blocks, and sophomore middle blocker Ryan Thompson had six blocks.

Finally, junior middle blocker Dylan Davis had seven kills and a match-high seven blocks for one of his better all-around performances of the season.

For Pepperdine, Maurice Torres led all players with 24 kills, and Josh Taylor was not far behind with 16. Mike McMahon paced all players with his 12 digs.

Next week, the Gauchos will return to Santa Barbara, as they will host the UCLA Bruins at Rob Gym on Friday, Feb. 10. Tickets for that match and all other home matches this season can be found here.