SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara was officially eliminated from postseason contention after suffering a four-set loss to No. 3 Brigham Young University at Rob Gym on Thursday night; 24-26, 25-23, 25-16, 25-15.
The Gauchos (10-15, 5-12 MPSF) hit .478 en route to a first-set victory against the Cougars (22-3, 15-2), but the visitors rebounded for three straight game wins to clinch the match.
UCSB and BYU will play again on Friday evening at the Thunderdome, with a 5:00 p.m. first serve. The last home match of the year for the Gauchos will feature ceremonies honoring former head coach Ken Preston, the team's three seniors, and departing long-time public address announcer Marc "Cubby" Jacobs.
Freshman setter Casey McGarry was the top performer for UCSB, leading the team with four aces, seven digs, and 28 assists. Senior Jacob Delson had nine kills to lead the Gauchos, though four players had seven or more kills.
BYU got its money's worth at the service line on Thursday, with all six starters notching an ace as the team accrued 13 on the night. Brenden Sander was the top server for the Cougars with four aces, followed by Jake Langlois's three. Langlois led all players with 13 kills on 22 swings.
Though the Gauchos prevailed in set number one, it was actually BYU who led for the majority of the frame. UCSB hung tight with the Cougars until they pulled away late with a 4-1 run to set up game point at 24-21. Undeterred, UCSB went on to reel off five straight points to steal the game.
Corey Chavers got the ball rolling with a kill from the left side, then he went to the service line and keyed the rest of the run. Aided by a pair of Cougar attack errors, Delson provided two kills during the spree including the game-winning point.
Things were similarly tight in set two, with neither team gaining a clear advantage as late as 19-19. From there, a Tim Dobbert kill put BYU up by one before Dobbert ripped an ace to go up by two. The two teams would trade the serve from there on out, allowing the Cougars to even the match at 1-1.
Despite UCSB jumping out to a 4-1 lead, it was all BYU in the third set with the visitors eventually forcing the Gauchos into a -.172 hitting percentage for the set. The Cougars kept it rolling in game four, hitting at an efficient .444 and serving up three aces to clinch the match.