No. 7 UCSB Clinches Fifth Seed in MPSF Tourney With Impressive 3-1 Win Over Pepperdine

Matt Marsh (Photo by Vince Agapito)
Matt Marsh (Photo by Vince Agapito)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The No. 7 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (18-9, 13-8) pulled off an impressive win against the sixth ranked Pepperdine Waves (13-9, 12-9), with four games at 25-20, 25-19, 28-26, and 25-18. With this win the Gauchos clinch the 5th seed in MPSF heading into playoffs, where they will most likely face off against Long Beach State or UCLA in an away match next Saturday, Apr. 16.

Showing season high performances tonight was an outstanding senior team that included setter Jonah Seif, right side hitter Matt Marsh, and middle blocker Ryan Hardy. A Seif-Hardy blocking combination at the net was one of the night's biggest highlights, as they put up a combined 14 blocks (eight and six respectively). With these blocking numbers Seif produced a season high, and in addition to his 47 assists, four kills, and nine digs, he was one dig and two blocks away from getting a triple-double; regardless, his numbers gave UCSB both the offense and defense they needed against the Waves.

UCSB's offense was tougher than ever as Marsh finished the night with 16 kills, seven digs, and two service aces. Hardy put down ten kills to match his season high, finishing with a .438 clip and three service aces to boot. With two more service aces from Seif and sophomore outside Hayden Boehle, it was also a great night at the back line for the Gauchos. Junior libero Parker Boehle and senior outside hitter Austin Kingi held down the UCSB defense with 12 and eight kills.

The first game, 25-20, got off to a slow start as both sides struggled on the defensive end. Though a Hardy kill (and his .667 clip) gave UC Santa Barbara the lead they needed at 10-9, their offense was no match for the Waves, who were led by Tommy Carmody, who had four kills in as many swings. The Pepperdine team in total picked up a .448 clip. For the Gauchos, Seif picked up ten assists and two kills, while Marsh put down three kills and picked up three digs.

The next game showed the Gauchos were ready to take back the night—and they did, at 25-19. Hardy proved his consistency, giving the team back to back kills at 10-8 and 11-8 and thereby widening their lead. This was only followed by a killer Seif-Hardy block that Seif then followed up with a kill of his own, leaving Pepperdine behind at 14-8. As the Waves narrowed the lead, Marsh took the game for his own by adding a line drive kill and a service ace. Hardy took the game with a final kill, making him four for five in this second game. Parker Boehle grabbed five digs and Kingi took four, while Seif put up 13 assists.

Each team having a win, they both came into the third set ready to take another. UCSB proved they wanted it more and fought point by point until they were successful at 28-26. Out of the gate there was a Hayden Boehle kill to tie up at 4-4, which was followed up by yet another Seif-Hardy block. Kingi found his momentum and widened the lead to 7-5 with a kill of his own. The front line's momentum was evident, with Marsh hitting at .429 with four kills, and Kingi grabbing six. It was also a game on the service line, with Marsh and Hardy each putting one an ace and the team grabbing five total over the three games. Both teams fought hard as the score went back and forth; however, Kingi took the lead back with kills to make it 21-20, and then 24-23. Seif put up three block assists and a solo block, while Hardy's clip improved to .545 from seven kills on 11 swings.

To confirm the night's victory, UCSB put one last game over on the Waves in their widest win of the night at 25-18. Santa Barbara took an early lead thanks to Hardy, who put down a kill at 11-4, and then two more at 12-7 and 13-7. With additional kills from Marsh and Kingi (five and three), and 11 assists and five digs from Seif, a strong Gaucho offense solidified their win.

UCSB finishes off their regular season with a Senior Night home game this Saturday against Stanford, at 7:00 p.m. in Rob Gym.