No. 14 UCSB Closes Out BYU Doubleheader With 3-0 Loss

Photo by Eric Isaacs
Photo by Eric Isaacs

PROVO, Utah – 24 hours after earning its first sweep at Smith Fieldhouse in over 20 years, the No. 14 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team was the victim of a galvanized No. 6 Brigham Young squad, which responded with a sweep of its own on Saturday night. Set scores were 25-23, 25-19, 25-20. 

The offense for BYU (6-4) was red hot all night, hitting .444 overall. The Cougars' Gabi Garcia Fernandez led all players by a wide margin with 18 kills and also hit a robust .517. Other key contributors included Andrew Lincoln (nine kills on 11 swings), Brenden Sander (10 kills, four blocks), and Leo Durkin (41 assists).

UCSB (4-4) meanwhile was led by sophomore opposite Keenan Sanders' 10 kills, but all three of the Gauchos' starting pin hitters were held under .200 hitting. 

The best chance for the away team came in the first set, as UCSB hit .357 as a team with a trio of hitters recording their best games of the night (Roy McFarland had five of his six kills in the first while Sanders and Corey Chavers chipped in four apiece). The Gauchos shook off an early 9-5 deficit to make it a dogfight down the stretch, producing 18 ties and six lead changes. UCSB led as late as 22-20, but BYU – which hit .600 in the frame – responded with a 5-1 run to clinch the opener. 

Behind five kills from Garcia Fernandez, BYU led for the entirety of the middle set to go up 2-0. 

Strong team serving and seven further kills from Garcia Fernandez helped BYU close out the sweep in the third, as the Cougars were able to rack up 6.5 blocks while frustrating the Gauchos to a .138 hitting percentage. Despite the disparity in the numbers, UCSB remained close to BYU on the scoreboard until the very end, holding a tie as late as 19-19, but the home team wrapped up the match with a 6-1 run. 

UCSB will be off for the next two weeks, returning to action on Wednesday, Feb. 21 with a contest against Pepperdine at Rob Gym. The Gauchos' 46-day stretch between home games is the longest of the Rick McLaughlin era (since 2009).