PROVO, Utah – No. 10 UC Santa Barbara suffered a 3-0 sweep for the second consecutive night on Saturday, falling in straight sets to No. 3 BYU at the Smith Fieldhouse, 25-17, 25-23, 25-14.
Though UC Santa Barbara (8-5, 4-4 MPSF) had an easier go of it on the offensive end, hitting .239 compared to a season-low .165 on Friday, BYU's pin hitters were near unstoppable, leading the Cougars (8-2, 6-2) to a hearty .487 hitting percentage.
In just three games, all three of BYU's pin hitters had at least 11 kills and hit between .476 and .556. Sophomore Brenden Sander had the most impressive night statistically, posting a match-high 15 kills on .545 hitting. Outside hitter Jake Langlois and opposite Ben Patch each had 11 putdowns.
Junior opposite Matt Marsh led the Gauchos on offense against the Cougars, notching a team-high 11 kills. Senior middle blocker Ryan Hardy added seven kills with an impressive .500 hitting percentage, while senior outside hitter Austin Kingi had another solid night with eight kills on 20 swings.
For the second consecutive night, the Gauchos seemed to struggle with their serving due to the high altitude in Provo, failing to record an ace once again. In fact, most of the team's jump servers opted for a float by the end of the night.
BYU stormed out to an 11-5 lead in the first game, buoyed by a trio of kills from Sander and a pair from Langlois. Thanks to a 94% sideout percentage from the Cougars, UCSB was never able to sustain a run to shrink that deficit, dropping the opener on a service error.
The Gauchos played their best volleyball in the second game, collecting their best single-set hitting percentage of the week by far at .355. Marsh led the way with five kills in the frame, with Kingi adding four of his own.
UCSB and BYU went back and forth, producing 15 ties and three lead changes throughout the game. Unfortunately for the Gauchos, their last lead came at 4-3, and they had to spend the rest of the set playing catch up to the Cougars, who hit an even .500.
Tied at 18-18, BYU pulled off a decisive 5-2 run that put them up 23-20 and forced a UCSB timeout. After the break, a Marsh kill and a UCSB triple break brought the deficit within one at 23-22.
One sideout later and the Gauchos were facing a BYU set point, but a Hardy quick hit gave the Gauchos hope at 24-23. Able to get a swing on the next play, UCSB was within inches of tying it up again, but Jacob Delson's down-the-line spike from the left side was deemed not to have touched a BYU blocker and landed just wide.
BYU ramped it up in the final set, hitting a match-high .520. After a Marsh kill made it 6-6, it was all Cougars, who went on a 13-3 run to put the match out of reach. Freshman middle blocker Henri Cherry had a nice set for the Gauchos, knocking down a kill on each of his three swings.
Next week, UCSB will return to Rob Gym – where the Gauchos are 4-1 this season – to host the UC Irvine Anteaters on Wednesday and the UC San Diego Tritons on Friday. Both matches are set for 7:00 p.m. first serves.