UCSB Comes Up Just Short in Marathon Five-Setter at Cal Baptist

Parker Boehle (photo by Eric Isaacs)
Parker Boehle (photo by Eric Isaacs)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – In their first match coming off their bye week, the No. 15 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team dropped a five-set heartbreaker to Cal Baptist featuring the second-longest fifth set in MPSF history, with the Lancers eventually pulling out a 27-25 win. 

Set scores for the entire match were 16-25, 20-25, 25-19, 25-20, 27-25. With the loss, UCSB dropped to 10-13 overall with a 5-10 conference mark, remaining in a tie for eighth place in the MPSF with USC ahead of tomorrow night's showdown at the Galen Center. Cal Baptist, winners of four straight, improved to 7-18, 2-13.

Redshirt senior Jacob Delson had the top offensive night statistically for the Gauchos, dropping a team-high 20 kills. Freshman middle Keenan Sanders added a dozen kills on a career-high 33 swings. Elsewhere, freshman setter Randy DeWeese had 51 assists and five kills on seven swings, and senior libero Parker Boehle notched a season-high 17 digs. 

A trio of Lancer hitters reached double-digit kills, led by Kevin Vaz's 16. Vaz also had a team-best seven blocks, while Cody Jackson solidified the back row with 15 digs. 

UCSB stormed out to a 2-0 lead in the match thanks to a .545 team hitting percentage in the first two sets. 

The Gauchos were at their best in the opening set, with Sanders torching the Lancers for five kills on six swings as UCSB hit a blistering .684. Sophomore middle Connor Drake added three kills on three swings in the frame, and he was a driving force for the Gauchos in game two, notching four kills on five swings. Delson started to get into a groove in the second set, hammering down five swings. 

Cal Baptist turned it around in sets three and four thanks to a prolific performance from their middle corps, with the home team notching seven blocks in the fourth. That all set up a do-or-die fifth that ended up needing the sceond-most points in conference history.

CBU had a golden opportunity to win the set early, having a pair of match points at 14-12, but a bad serve from Jackson followed by a huge ace from DeWeese tied it up, serving as a preview of the struggle to come the rest of the way. 

The teams traded points for the next 15 minutes, with UCSB creating five match points to Cal Baptist's six. 

The Gauchos' last chance to pull it out came at 24-23, but the Lancers stormed back with a 3-1 run to set up a match point of their own, converting this time on an ace from Rohit Paul.

UCSB plays its last road match of the regular season tomorrow evening with a 7:00 p.m. contest against USC that has huge playoff implications for both squads.