Santa Barbara, Calif. - No. 8 UC Santa Barbara suffered a tough loss to the fourth-ranked UC Irvine Anteaters Saturday night at 1-3 (25-19, 25-21, 25-22, 25-22), bringing their weekend on the road to a breakeven. This match snapped the Gauchos' five match winning streak.
Both teams showed a dominating presence on the attack, with Santa Barbara picking up a .276 hitting percentage and Irvine's clip coming out to .347.
The Gauchos put up a good fight with impressive performances from senior outside Matt Marsh with thirteen kills, eight digs, and two block assists, senior blocker Ryan Hardy with a .800 clip, eight kills and five block assists, and finally senior setter Jonah Seif who racked up 43 assists, ten digs, and four service aces. Freshman Corey Chavers, upon his entrance in the third game, was a key player for Santa Barbara at nine kills and a .667 clip.
The first game found home squad UC Irvine a force to reckon with their dominating 25-19 win. Anteater outsider Tamir Herschko lead his team to victory with nine kills in the opener, with help from setter Michael Saeta, who picked up 14 assists himself. Regardless, UCSB was still a fighting presence. UCSB senior outside Kingi had four kills to his name and a clip of .500, providing stable offense with two consecutive kills at the start. Senior setter Jonah Seif showed up to play with ten assists.
UCI continued playing well into the second game, taking it 25-21. Marsh impressed four kills on the Anteaters, giving the Gauchos crucial points when they needed it. Seif went on the attack from the service line, delivering two aces to contribute to the Gaucho offense.
The Gauchos took a stand in the third game with a 25-22 comeback. They found a strong presence from their freshmen, as middle blocker Connor Drake and outside hitter Corey Chavers went after UCI with a combined eleven kills in the final game (Drake with seven, Chavers with five and an intimidating .714 clip). Chavers was responsible for the decisive kill that gave the Gauchos the win at 25-22, only after contributing his other four kills upon entering the game at 15-12.
The fourth set confirmed UCSB's loss to Irvine. Within the first three points of the fourth set, Ryan Hardy laid down two kills. Hardy was a stabilizing presence throughout the match, and proved that in this fourth game. Drake, Marsh, and Chavers held down the front line with two, three, and four kills respectively. This was not without the efforts of Seif, who put down eleven assists of his own. Unfortunately their efforts were not enough to hold off UC Irvine, who won the final point on a Herschko-Saeta combination.
UCSB looks to further their season this Thursday down south at USC, where they take on the No. 13 Trojans at 7PM.