SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The No. 9 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team wrapped up the 2016 Asics Invitational with a controlling sweep of Sacred Heart, giving the Gauchos a perfect 3-0 record in the tournament and handing head coach Rick McLaughlin his 100th career victory at the helm of the program.
Game scores for the match were 25-16, 25-21, 25-21. UCSB (4-1) has now won nine consecutive matches in the Asics Invitational dating back to 2013.
As has been the case so far in the young season, junior outside hitter Jacob Delson and junior opposite Matt Marsh were the most productive members of the attack, posting a match-high 13 kills and 12 kills, respectively.
All-American setter Jonah Seif (31 assists) steered the Gauchos to a .354 hitting percentage, the squad's third straight tilt swinging over .250. His consistency at the center of the offense allowed UCSB to hit over .300 in all three games on Saturday.
"I thought we continued to play better as the weekend went along," said McLaughlin. "And that's exactly what you have to do to be successful this early in the season."
Sacred Heart (0-3), an EIVA member based out of Connecticut, wrapped up a rough trip to the West Coast by hitting .101 against the Gauchos. Michael Comens and Chris Delucie finished atop the Pioneers with nine kills apiece.
Delson was a one-man wrecking crew in the opening game, notching seven kills on just 10 swings, the most putdowns by a Gaucho in a single game so far this season. The Westlake Village, Calif. native had three kills as part of an early run that put UCSB up 10-4, creating a comfortable cushion. Additional floor seeking missiles from Delson pushed the lead to eight at 19-11 and then nine at 24-15. An off-the-block kill from – you guessed it – Delson ended the opening stanza.
Sacred Heart began to push back in game two, hitting a match-high .207. Delucie was the driving factor for the Pioneers in the set, tally five kills on just eight swings. SHU led by as much as 14-11, but Delson and Marsh (four kills apiece) helped lead a pushback from UCSB, including a huge ace at 16-16 and a kill – both from Delson – that put the Gauchos up for good at 19-18. Freshman middle blocker Corey Chavers, who six kills on the night, provided his most clutch play of the night by tipping an attack past SHU's blockers for a game-clinching kill.
It was the Pioneers who crafted a late-game comeback in the third, climbing within one at 20-21 after trailing by as much as six in the middle stages of the frame. An effective timeout from McLaughlin allowed the Gauchos to regroup and close the contest on a 4-1 run, including a pair of kills from Marsh and a match-winning ace from Seif.
UCSB begins MPSF action next week, traveling south to take on UC San Diego on Friday, Jan. 15 and UC Irvine on Saturday, Jan. 16.