Santa Barbara, Calif. - No. 11 UC Santa Barbara fell to second-ranked Long Beach State this Friday night, though they took the battle all the way to five games (25-22, 26-24, 25-20, 25-23, 15-13). Both teams showed impressive numbers and all around aggressive performances from top players that included UCSB's senior right side Matt Marsh and senior outside Austin Kingi, as well as the Long Beach's freshman tag team of outside TJ De Falco (27 kills, .327) and setter Josh Tuaniga (63 assists).
For the Gauchos, Marsh ended up with 14 attacks, 12 digs, and five blocks assists—showing dominance on both offensive and defensive ends. Kingi picked up 11 kills himself in addition to 10 digs and two block assists. Freshman middle Connor Drake put up good work at the net, with eight block assists.
The first game, 25-20, showed both teams hungry for a win from the start. Star senior setter Jonah Seif broke the rally-scoring pattern with a consecutive block and ace, and recorded six digs by the end of the game. However, this was not enough for the 49er offense, who claimed the win with a combined 13 kills.
UCSB and Long Beach went at it neck and neck again during the second game, which the Gauchos took for their own at 26-24. To get his team ahead of the consistently close scoring, Matt Marsh put down a kill at 11-8, carrying the momentum forward and taking the Gauchos for a nine point run. As the game came to a head once again at 16-16, senior middle Ryan Hardy proved his skill with a kill that pushed UCSB forward. Kingi solidified the win with an imposing kill.
The third game found Long Beach with the win at 25-20, as they took the lead at 10-6 and ran with it. However, it was not without the efforts of the Gaucho offense; junior outside Jacob Delson picked up three kills, as Marsh took four and Drake put up two block assists.
The fourth game showed the most tenacity of the night from UCSB, as they took the win from the 49ers at 25-23. Kingi showed up early with two consecutive kills at 7-9 and 8-9, giving his team the drive they needed. Delson confirmed the Gaucho win as he led the offense towards the end of the game with a kill, bringing the score to a tie then leading it with a second kill. Delson recorded six kills and a service ace for the fourth game, while junior libero Parker Boehle held down the defense with four digs.