SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara concluded its final four-game road trip of the year defeating conference rival UC Irvine 4-2. UCSB will now return home for its final three games of the regular season.
This is the Gauchos (11-6 overall, 2-0 Big West) 27th straight win against conference opponents. With the loss, the Anteaters (13-6 overall, 2-2 Big West) fall to 10-3 at home and have now lost two of its last four.
As for the Gauchos, in their last eight Big West matches, they had not given up a single point to its opposition winning by a combined total of 55-0. However, UC Irvine looked to change all of that with a very strong performance in singles.
In doubles, however, UCSB continued its dominance there. Santa Barbara would win on courts one and two to quickly solidify its 1-0 lead.
The Gauchos would then earn the point with Joseph Guillin and Victor Krustev earning a 6-2 win over UCI's Vatsal Bajpai/Mateusz Smolick to bounce back from their first loss as a pair this dual-match season on Monday.
In singles, the match got much closer after the Anteaters were able to tie the match after a big win on court three. Smolicki would beat No. 93 ranked Krustev 6-4, 6-1 to give hand the sophomore his second-straight loss. This is the first time this year that Krustev has lost back-to-back matches, though he still holds a strong 11-4 record at the No. 3 court.
The Gauchos would retaliate with a win on court six as Holm continues his hot streak with six-straight victories following a 6-3, 6-2 win to push his dual-match record to 9-7 on the year. UC Irvine would tie it up again though after a win on court four over sophomore Josepth Rotheram, 6-4, 6-4.
Tied at 2-2, UCSB would need strong performances from its top players to keep its streak alive. It got just that first from No. 14 Moreno de Alboran who, after gutting out a 7-5 first-set win, would gut out a tough second-set win, 7-6 (4) to give his team a 3-2 lead.
After that, senior Hironori Koyanagi would secure the victory with a 7-6 (1), 7-6 (4) win on court four to push his overall record to 8-7 on the year and 2-1 on court four.
The match would be called there but No. 56 Guillin was en route to a victory on court two as he was up 2-0 in the third. He had lost the first set 7-6 (5) before retaliating with a 6-4 win in the second.
Overall, Saturday's win was a good test for the Gauchos. Last year, they may have gone a perfect 7-0 and not given up a single point but that was last year. Every team in the conference has something to prove and that is knocking off UCSB who has four-consecutive Big West Titles. Still, Santa Barbara will not go down easy, as it proved today.
Santa Barbara will take on UC Riverside at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 14 at the Rec Cen Courts. Free pizza, as always, will be provided to UCSB's awesome fans wearing their yellow UCSB t-shirts which are sold at the match for 10 dollars. Follow @UCSBTennis on twitter for any and all updates.