LONG BEACH, Calif. – The 15th-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team was able to steal a set from 10th-ranked Long Beach State, but in the end, the visiting Gauchos went down to defeat in four sets, 25-20, 28-30, 25-15, 25-20.
The Gauchos (4-8 overall, 2-6 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) were led by Miles Evans and Kevin Donohue who had 16 and 13 kills respectively. The 49ers (7-6 overall, 3-5 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) were led by Colten Echave who had 17 kills and five blocks.
Long Beach State pulled ahead midway through the first set en route to a 25-20 victory. It went-back-and-forth before the 49ers scored three unanswered points to go up, 14-11. After playing a sideout game, Long Beach went on a 5-0 run to open up a 21-15 lead. Long Beach State eventually took set point on a kill by freshman John La Rusch, and after UCSB fought off three set points, La Rusch ended it with his fifth kill.
The second set was another back-and-forth struggle with 24 tie scores and 11 lead changes. Neither team was able to pull away, but Long Beach claimed the first set point at 24-23 on a kill from Jeff Ornee. The 49ers held set point two more times before the Gauchos went up 29-28 on an Evans kill. UCSB's Weston Nielson and Ryan Thompson then put up a big double block on a back row attack by La Rusch to knot the match with the 30-28 win.
Santa Barbara fell behind 10-3 early in the third frame. Long Beach remained in the lead and grew the lead to 22-11 on a 5-1 spurt. Two kills by Echave finished off the Gauchos. The 49ers were on fire in the third set, hitting .485.
LBSU went on top, 11-8, early in the fourth set, but UCSB came storming back after a timeout to balance the score. After trading points, the 49ers took the lead for good at 13-12 on a double block by Brad Hemmerling and Ornee. LBSU would then use a 5-2 run to take a 22-18 lead. A kill from Hemmerling gave the 49ers set point before a double block closed it out at 25-20.
The Gauchos struggled offensively on the night, hitting just .138. Nielsen finished with a team-high five blocks while Thompson and Oliver Deutschman each had four. Donohue had 12 digs and Chad Kingi had 11.
UCSB returns to action when it travels to BYU for matches on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25. The rematches of last year's MPSF Tournament First Round contest will begin at 6:00 p.m (PST).