Gauchos Topped by Pepperdine

Chad Kingi (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Chad Kingi (Photo by Tony Mastres)

MALIBU, Calif. Despite one of their better serving performances of the season, the Gauchos were unable to convert against No. 4 Pepperdine on Tuesday night, falling by a score of 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-20) at the Firestone Fieldhouse. With the loss, UCSB falls to 5-11 with a 3-9 conference mark, while the red hot Waves improve to 8-4, 8-4.

UCSB had five aces in the match their most since Feb. 1, a stretch of five matches against just 12 service errors, tied for the third lowest total this season. Most impressively, the Gauchos had five different servers (Davis, Marsh, Seif, A. Kingi, Silver) record an ace for the first time this season. UCSB had had four different players with an ace on two different occasions.

Unfortunately, the improvement in serving could not overcome the Gauchos' continued attacking struggles. Their .162 team hitting percentage was their second lowest of the year, but that percentage was heavily affected by Pepperdine's blockers, who accrued an impressive 15.5 team blocks.

Sophomore outside hitter Kevin Donohue led the attack for the Gauchos, picking up a team-high nine kills on just 18 swings. Senior middle blocker Dylan Davis wasn't far behind, recording seven kills on 15 attempts. Davis also chipped in four blocks, which tied sophomore middle blocker Jake Staahl for the team lead.

The Waves got out to an early lead by establishing their blocking game in the first set, picking up 7.0 of their total blocks in the initial frame. Pepperdine's blocking performance led to a negative hitting percentage (-.038) for the Gauchos.

UCSB got into a bit of an offensive rhythm in the second, and they actually led through the first part of the set. Down 11-7, a Pepperdine timeout led to a shift in momentum that would see them tie the set at 18-18, then rip off a 7-4 run to close out the set. Both teams hit well in the second, as UCSB would record a .346 clip, and Pepperdine a .500 clip.

The Waves did not relent in the decisive third game, hitting .429 to close out their sixth consecutive home win. For the match, Pepperdine hit a whopping .420. Reigning MPSF player of the week Maurice Torres led the charge, leading all players with 18 kills and a .625 hitting percentage. Parker Kalmbach had match highs with eight blocks and two service aces.

For UCSB, freshman setter Jonah Seif had 29 assists and three blocks in the loss, while junior libero Chad Kingi anchored the defense with a team high six digs.

The Gauchos will be back in action on Thursday night, when they take on the USC Trojans at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, Calif. Live stats for that match can be found here.