UCSB Squanders Two Game Lead to Finish Season
On Saturday night, the Gauchos ended their season on a sour note, falling to the University of Pacific in a five game, two hour-11 minute marathon match. The loss came despite UCSB claiming the first two games of the contest, as the Gauchos were unable to close out on the Tigers.
Game scores for the match went 20-25, 24-26, 25-18, 25-23, 15-12. UCSB finished the year with an overall record of 7-19. Their 5-17 record in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation matches tied Pacific for the tenth best record in the conference.
Coming into the week with a chance at sneaking into the eighth and final playoff seed, the Gauchos ended up three games back of Cal State Northridge, who earned the No. 8 seed with an 8-14 record.
Freshman outside hitter Kevin Donohue was the key to the Gauchos' early success. Kevin recorded 14 of his career-high 22 kills and swung at an incredible .565 clip in the first two games. Kevin would finish the match with a .306 hitting percentage, nine digs, and three blocks.
In addition, Donohue's line tied Dylan Davis' 22 kills on Feb. 29 at Cal State Northridge for the highest single-match kill output of the season for UCSB. With the lofty total, Donohue eclipsed the 200-kill mark for the season, finishing the year with 204- second best on the squad.
Senior outside hitter Blaine Nielsen capped off his Gaucho career with perhaps his best performance at UCSB. Blaine tied his career high- set on the first match of the season on Jan. 6 against Ohio State- with 13 kills. Nielsen also had a career and match high with 16 digs to give the Corona Del Mar native his first career double-double.
Donohue and Nielsen's efforts were not enough to lead the Gauchos to victory however, as the Tigers rallied from an 0-2 deficit, drawing on the strenth of their seniors who were honored in a pre-match ceremony.
Sean Daley led his squad with 17 kills, while Florian Gornik chipped in another 10. Dylan Walker and Ryan Spencer, the other Pacific seniors, also saw action in the first game, combining for four kills.
The proficiency of UCSB's attack dropped off the table after the second game, as reflected in their hitting percentages. In the first two games, the Gauchos hit a collective .323. They hit just .171 in the final three games.
Junior setter Oliver Deutschman was able to dish out 60 assists on the night, the most by a UCSB setter this season. Oliver was also able to contribute seven digs.
Miles Evans had yet another productive night for the Gauchos, recording 17 kills and seven digs. Evans finished the season with 325 kills, tops for UCSB attackers.
Sophomore libero Chad Kingi finished his season with a 13 dig performance. Kingi ended the season having recorded 10 or more digs in 10 of his team's 26 matches.