April 6, 2007
Santa Barbara, Calif. - Senior opposite hitter Evan Patak recorded his 2,000th career kill to help propel the fifth-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team to a 3-0 sweep over No. 7 Cal State Northridge Friday at Robertson Gymnasium. The win moved the Gauchos one step closer to hosting a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Tournament quarterfinal match.
Scores of the match were 30-24, 31-29, and 30-21.
UCSB improved to 18-10 overall and 13-7 in the MPSF, while Cal State Northridge fell to 16-13 and 10-10. The Gauchos sit in fourth place in the league with two regular season matches remaining. One more UCSB win or a UCLA loss would assure the Gauchos a home quarterfinal in the MPSF Tournament on April 21. The fourth-ranked Bruins hosted No. 2 UC Irvine Friday evening and results were not final as of press time.
Patak, ranked third in the country in kills, entered the match with 1,987 career put-aways. After racking up nine kills in the opening game, he took a Bart Kowalski set on the right side and ripped a kill down the middle in the second stanza to become just the second player in school history to amass 2,000 or more kills. Patak's match-high 25 kills gave him 2,012 for his illustrious career and he is second on UCSB's all-time list behind Donny Harris, who totaled 2,114 between 1994 and 1997. Patak hit .595 on the night with just three errors in 37 swings. He also added two service aces and a dig and recorded a match-best 27 points.
UCSB middle Theo Brunner, ranked third in the nation in hitting, swung at .727 with nine kills and one error in 11 attempts. At .544, Brunner is on pace to obliterate his own single season hitting record of .486, set in 2005. He also had a match-high four blocks as the Gauchos held a 5.5 to 2.0 advantage over the Matadors in that category.
Outside hitter Armen Zakarian hit .600 with seven kills while collecting a match-high eight digs. Kowalski led Santa Barbara to a .494 attack percentage with 49 assists.
The Matadors, who hit .273, got 13 kills out of opposite Dan Rhodes. Outside Eric Vance followed with nine kills and middle Kyle Waite had eight while hitting .538. Outside Isaac Kneubuhl dug up a team-high five balls and setters Travis Bluemling and Sean Pedersen had 25 and 19 assists, respectively.
Northridge needs one win in its final two regular season matches to clinch a playoff spot.
The Gauchos found themselves down by four points at 21-17 in the first set. However, they reeled off six straight points, three of those coming off Patak kills, to take a 23-21 lead that they would not relinquish.
UCSB was forced to come back yet again in the second game as it was down by as many as six points. A kill by Vance gave the Matadors a 29-25 edge, but UCSB shrugged off four game points on a pair of Patak kills, a Brunner kill, and a Northridge attack error. At 29-29, Patak served up an ace and a Northridge error completed the impressive come-from-behind win.
In game three, it was close until the Gauchos strung together five consecutive points to take a 15-9 lead. The Matadors committed three errors and Brunner and Patak each had a kill in the run. Northridge got no closer than four points the rest of the way as UCSB hit .577 to the Matadors' .184.
UCSB plays its final two regular season matches on the road. The Gauchos travel to No. 14 USC on April 11 before taking on top-ranked Pepperdine in Malibu on April 14.