February 11, 2006

No. 3 UC Irvine Tops UC Santa Barbara in Four Games

Feb. 11, 2006

Box Score

Santa Barbara, Calif. - A short-handed UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team pushed No. 3 UC Irvine to the brink in each game, but ultimately lost in four games, 33-35, 30-23, 29-31, 37-39. The No. 10 Gauchos fell to 6-8 overall and 46 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation while the Anteaters climbed to 10-3 overall and 5- in the MPSF.

Junior opposite Evan Patak tried to give it a go but would be unable to finish the contest. Bryan Berman, Derek Otte and Theo Brunner filled in nicely for the Gauchos in the 2005 All-American's absence though. Berman led the Gauchos with 21 kills, Otte recorded 18 and Brunner spiked 15.

Jayson Jablonsky led the Anteater charge, finishing with a game-high 25 kills, two service aces and five block assists. Aaron Harrell and David Smith recorded 13 and 11 kills, respectively.

Irvine jumped out to a 1-0 lead after the first game that saw UCSB erase a six-point deficit at 13-19. The Gauchos tied the game at 26-26, and the two teams would battle to a tie six more times before the Anteaters were able to put the game away. Tied at 33, a costly service error by Theo Brunner put UCI in the driver's seat, and a block by Paul Spittle and David Smith would seal the game, 35-33.

The Gauchos stormed back in the second game, jumping out to a 24-16 lead. Irvine scored three consecutive points to cut the lead to five, but two kills from Berman, one from Jared Godinez and one from Otte would catapult UCSB to a game two victory.

Otte was spectacular for the Gauchos, equaling his season kill count in one match with 18.

Game three came down to a 29-29 tie when Jablonsky spiked a Brian Thorton set into the ground after Santa Barbara had led for the majority of the game. Another kill by Jablonsky gave the Anteaters a 30-29 lead, and it looked as if Theo Brunner was going to tie the game at 30, but Irvine's David Smith saved the ball and game with a diving dig to his left to keep the ball alive, and once Irvine settled the ball, Jablonsky recorded his third consecutive kill to give Irvine a 2-1 game lead.

It seemed as if game four would never end as each team refused to budge for 75 points. Again, Santa Barbara maintained a lead for much of the game until a kill by Aaron Harrell gave the Anteaters a 30-29 lead. Otte, Berman and Brunner racked up multiple kills from there, but Irvine would always have an answer. At 37-37, the Anteaters were able to convert two consecutive kills from Matt Webber and Thorton.

As a team, the Gauchos hit .318 to the Anteaters' .333 clip. UCI's 30 blocks trumped UCSB's count of eight and would prove to be the difference in the match.

UCSB returns to action this Wednesday when they will host Pepperdine for a 7:05 match.