February 6, 2014

Seif's Triple-Double Not Enough as No. 8 Gauchos Fall to USC in Five

LOS ANGELES – The second triple-double in sophomore setter Jonah Seif's young career was not enough to propel the eighth-ranked Gauchos over No. 5 USC on Thursday night, as the Gauchos fell just short in a 3-2 loss (20-25, 34-32, 23-25, 27-25, 15-9) at the Galen Center.

UC Santa Barbara (5-3, 4-3) nursed set leads of 1-0 and 2-1 over the evening, but a late run by USC (6-3, 5-3) to win the fourth set spilled over into the fifth, where the Trojans won 12 of the first 14 points en route to the victory.

Statistically, it was the best performance of the season so far for Seif, who had a season-high 48 assists, two service aces, career-best matching 12 digs, and season-high 10 blocks. The Thousand Oaks, Calif. native's only other career triple-double came on Jan. 25, 2013 against Pacific.

Senior opposite Evan Licht had a strong night on the right side, recording a team-high 18 kills and season-high 10 digs for his first double-double of the season. Three other Gauchos finished with double-digit kills, highlighted by junior outside hitter Austin Kingi's 13. Weston Nielsen chipped in 11 kills of his own, while sophomore middle blocker Ryan Hardy had 11 as well for the second-highest total of his career. With 10 total blocks, he recorded his first career double-double.

Junior middle blocker Jake Staahl led a UCSB front row that recorded its second-highest total block output of the season at 21.5. The Studio City, Calif. native set a new career mark with 11 block assists.

Hardy was at the heart of a strong opening stanza for the Gauchos, as the middle had five kills on just six swings while scooping four of the team's seven digs. He had two kills as part of a 6-2 run that gave UCSB its biggest lead of the set at 23-18.

The Gauchos led by as many as five early in the second, but USC chipped away and eventually tied the score at 23-all. Kingi, Nielsen, and Hardy all contributed kills in extra points, but a dump from USC setter Micah Christenson followed by a Lucas Yoder kill at 32-all clinched the marathon game.

Licht did his best work in the third frame, collecting five of the team's 13 kills, including the set clincher. The senior was at the service line for a 5-0 run that put the Gauchos up 7-6 after falling behind early. The two teams stayed close from there on out, with neither team opening a lead of more than three.

UCSB held a 24-21 lead in the fourth, but back-to-back Tanner Jansen kills followed by a Gauchos red card set the stage for the USC comeback.

Jansen, Yoder, and Andy Benesh each had 15 kills to lead the Trojans. Setter Micah Christenson finished with 60 assists.

The Gauchos are back in action this Saturday night, when they take on the third-ranked Pepperdine Waves at 7:00 p.m.