Strong Play Pulls UCSB Through in 5 Sets
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UCSB came out of the gates firing with swings that put the team up big early in the first set. Senior middle blocker Dylan Davis wasted no time in continuing his momentum from last game, in which he set a season high in kills with 14, by blasting the first 3 of his 13 total kills this game. Sophomore opposite Matt Marsh would add 4 of his 13 total kills as well with Austin Kingi and Jake Staahl combining for another 7 kills in the first set. Meanwhile, the team's 6 combined blocks stymied the Cal Baptist Lancers' offense that could only manage hitting at .200%.
Game scores for the match went 25-20, 20-25, 25-19, 19-25, 15-11. The Gauchos improved to 5-7 with the win, including a 3-5 record in the MPSF. Cal Baptist fell to 5-5, 2-3.
The Lancers would rebound in the second set with devastating strikes from their two senior outside hitters Levi Cabral and Aaron McCalmont, tallying 4 kills each of their own. While Marsh would tack on another 3 kills and Austin Kingi another 4 kills, the overall team hitting percentage dropped nearly in half from .480% in the first set to .233% in the second.
UCSB rallied in the third again behind offensive muscles Matt Marsh and Dylan Davis, with 4 and 3 kills respectively, while redshirt sophomore Kevin Donohue came off the bench to add 4 kills of his own. Cal Baptist met this effort in the fourth set in the same way it did in the second. Utilizing its own offensive muscle behind 4 more kills each from Cabral and McCalmont as well as an additional 6 kills from fellow senior outside hitter Guilherme Koepp, the Lancers secured the fourth set.
Overall, Cal Baptist's striking juggernaut saw Koepp finishing with a total of 21 kills at a .455 hitting percentage while Cabral and McCalmont assisted the barrage with 16 and 17 kills, respectively.
The decisive fifth set saw the Gauchos go down early but come roaring back in thrilling fashion. UCSB as a team efficiently attacked the opposing defense with a combined .615 hitting percentage. Conversely on defense the team blocked 4 of the Lancers' attacks late that helped pull out a victory.
After the game Marsh reflected on the team's play, "I like how we played. We played hard and we played to win. It was nice pulling out a five set win after losing some earlier in the year. We definitely are carrying this confidence going into BYU."
Coach McLaughlin emphasized the team play in the key win, especially over the dominant Brazilian duo of Koepp and Cabral, but did express cautious optimism about the upcoming test against the #1 BYU Cougars in Provo on Thursday, "BYU is a hard place to win but we're going to keep up our momentum and keep improving. This game will be a good gauge of where we are as a team going forward."