LOS ANGELES – No. 11 UC Santa Barbara suffered a 3-0 loss at the hands of No. 3 UCLA on Wednesday night at Pauley Pavilion, 25-22, 25-15, 25-18.
The match was originally slated for early January, but was rescheduled due to travel complications caused by the tragic Montecito mudslides. UCSB dropped to 9-8 overall with the loss, while UCLA improved to 20-5 with their fifth straight win.
With 11, sophomore opposite Keenan Sanders led the Gauchos in kills for the 11th time in the last 12 matches. Junior middle blocker Connor Drake added six kills on 11 swings, but as a team the Gauchos hit just .099 for the evening.
UCLA meanwhile finished with a .446 team hitting percentage, led by Christian Hessaenhauer's 11.
UCSB had the advantage early-on in the first set, going up 6-3 when the Bruins were whistled for a net violation on a Connor Drake swing. Though that early lead gave way to a 10-10 tie, the Gauchos maintained a slight advantage in the middle points, then went on a small run to take their biggest lead at 17-14 on a shanked Roy McFarland jump serve, one of UCSB's two aces of the set. UCLA got its act together soon after that however, storming back to tie it 20-20 on a Dylan Missry ace and then taking the lead for good the next point with a double-block. The Bruins ended up winning six of the final eight points and outhitting UCSB .526 to .194.
Unfortunately for UCSB, the Bruins were able to carry that momentum into the second, taking a 5-1 early lead on a run capped off a by a Micah Ma'a ace. Later in the set, the Gauchos would trim that deficit to one by winning four consecutive points to make it 13-12, but the home squad responded with an 8-0 run to seize back control.
UCLA kept the Gauchos at arms-length in the third, going up 3-0 to start and maintaining a multi-point lead the rest of the way.
The Gauchos resume Big West Conference play this weekend, taking on No. 8 CSUN this weekend in a home-and-home series. UCSB will travel to the Matadome on Friday night and then host the Matadors at Rob Gym on Saturday night. The Gauchos are 2-2 thus far in league action.