The No. 14 Gauchos ended their run in the 2012 UCSB/asics Invitational Tournament with a loss to top-ranked BYU in straight sets on Saturday afternoon, earning them sixth place overall for the tournament. UCSB also met BYU in their last match in the 2011 iteration of the tournament, where BYU topped the Gauchos to win the tournament championship. Game scores for the match were 26-24, 25-22, 25-19.
The Gauchos were led by Junior outside hitter Evan Miles, who paced his squad with 11 kills. BYU had strong performances from hitters Taylor Sander and Josue Rivera, who both broke the double-digit kill barrier, recording 17 and 11 kills respectively.
The first set was as close to a game-win as the Gauchos got in the match, forcing BYU to score 26 points in order to dispatch them. Miles Evans had four of his kills in the frame, and also recorded a pair of service aces. Freshman outside hitter added three of his four kills in the set to keep things close. As a team, 2.5 of their 3.5 total blocks came in the set. Despite all that, the Cougars were able to trump the Gauchos in the set on the strength of Taylor Sander's six kills and a whopping 6.5 team blocks.
The second set did little to improve the Gauchos' spirit, as Sander and Rivera again dissected the Gauchos blocking efforts, recording five kills apiece. BYU hit a collective .500 in the set. The Gauchos' second set play was highlighted by another four kill performance from Miles Evans and five digs from Kevin Donohue, who would finish the match with six.
Though the Gauchos had their highest single-set hitting percentage of the afternoon in the third frame (.167), they also put up their lowest point total (19).
Sophomore libero Chad Kingi and freshman outside hitter Weston Nielsen, who both played out of position in the match, had solid nights despite any discomfort. Kingi piled up 31 assists and four digs, while Nielsen scooped up five digs in the match.
UCSB Head Coach Rick McLaughlin reflected on the loss: "The best thing about [the tournament] was that we got three matches in and we have a lot of young guys that got some really good playing time which is vital for us right now. We showed a lot of character when we came out and won against Northridge after losing two in a row where we were up in sets."
With their hosting duties over, the Gauchos now play one more match before conference play begins. They will host Cal Baptist on Wednesday night, Jan. 11, at Rob Gym.
Tickets for that match, and all home matches for the 2012 season, can be purchased here.
First Place: UC Irvine
Second Place: UCLA
Third Place: Long Beach State
Fourth Place: Ohio State
Fifth Place: BYU
Sixth Place: UC Santa Barbara
Seventh Place: Cal State Northridge
Eighth Place: Loyola (Chicago)