No. 6 UCSB Edged, 3-2, at No. 1 UC Irvine
Jan. 20, 2007
Irvine, Calif. - Despite a match-high 36 kills from Evan Patak, the No. 6 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team saw its four-match win streak come to an end Saturday as it was defeated, 3-2, by top-ranked UC Irvine at the Bren Events Center. The Gauchos won the first two games before the Anteaters turned it around and hit almost .600 over the next three frames to ice the victory.
Scores of the match were 25-30, 28-30, 30-22, 30-25, and 15-10 in favor of UC Irvine.
It was the first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) loss for UCSB, which fell to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the league. UC Irvine, which has been ranked No. 1 since the preseason, upped its perfect record to 8-0 (4-0 MPSF). It was just the second time this season that Irvine did not sweep its opponent in three games as the Anteaters beat Cal Baptist, 3-1, to open their season Jan. 3.
Game three was the turning point in the match as UC Irvine hit .514 to UCSB's match-low .200. It only got better from there for the Anteaters, who hit .581 in the fourth game and .769 in the fifth. Over the three-game stretch, Irvine hit. 582 with 51 kills and just five errors in 79 attacks.
The Gauchos went up 2-0 to start the third game, but the Anteaters wasted no time scoring two straight points to tie it up. Irvine took its first lead, 7-6, on a UCSB attack error and would not give up the lead for the rest of the game. The Anteaters pushed their lead to six at 15-9 on blocks by Aaron Harrell and Matt Webber and the Gauchos could not climb back in the game.
UCSB played catch-up early in game four and tied it, 9-9, on a bad set by Jayson Jablonsky, the reigning national player of the year. Patak gave the Gauchos the lead with a kill on the next play. The score stayed within one point until blocks from Bart Kowalski and Theo Brunner put UCSB up by two, 20-18. The Anteaters quickly tied it at 20 on a Taylor Wilson kill and blocks by Wilson and David Smith. Another Wilson kill gave Irvine the lead and a bad set by Kowalski a few plays later put Irvine up by two at 24-22. UCI upped its lead to five (29-24) as it scored three-straight points behind Harrell and Jablonsky kills and blocks by Harrell and Webber.
Jablonsky gave Irvine an early 1-0 lead with a kill to open the fifth game. Two straight kills from Brunner and Patak put UCSB up, 2-1, before another Jablonsky kill evened it at 2-2. A Webber block gave UCI the advantage, but Patak came right back with a kill to tie the deciding game, 3-3. UCSB had two straight errors, one at the service line, the other on attack, to allow the Anteaters to take a 5-3 lead. The Gauchos played from behind for the rest of the game and Smith's 13th kill ended the match and UCSB's win streak.
UCSB got off to a solid start, hitting .562 in the opening game and .432 in the second. In contrast, UC Irvine hit .364 and .395.
For the match, the Anteaters hit .484 and the Gauchos swung at a .400 clip. UCSB out-blocked Irvine, 10.5-9.0, while the Anteaters led in digs, 48-42. The Anteaters had six aces and 17 service errors.
Patak, the MPSF Player of the Week, had a team co-high nine digs, two blocks, and both of UCSB's aces to go along with his 36 kills. David Kennedy had 17 kills, hit .517, and added five blocks and Brunner finished with 10 kills and five blocks. Kowalski racked up 72 assists for the Gauchos and libero Ben Brockman had nine digs.
Jablonsky hit .523 with a team-high 28 kills. Webber recorded 21 kills and both he and Jablonsky had double-doubles with 11 digs apiece. Smith hit .667 with 13 kills and one error in 18 attacks.
UCSB had a marathon week of competition. Wednesday, the Gauchos came back from two games down to defeat No. 3 UCLA, 3-2, at Robertson Gymnasium. It was the third five-game match of the season for UCSB, which topped Pacific Jan. 12 in Stockton.
UCSB remains on the road for two more MPSF matches as it plays No. 9 Long Beach State Jan. 26 (7 p.m.) and UC San Diego Jan. 27 (7 p.m.). The next home tilt for the Gauchos is Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. as USC visits Robertson Gymnasium for the second time this year. UCSB blanked the Trojans Jan. 5 during the Elephant Bar Collegiate Invitational.