SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The No. 12 Gauchos started off their four match homestand with a thud on Tuesday night, falling to the unranked Princeton Tigers in four games (29-27, 25-20, 22-25, 25-23) at Rob Gym.
UCSB — losers of five straight — falls to 3-6 overall, while Princeton moves to 1-0 in their first season opening win since 2001. It was also their first win over a ranked opponent since 2008.
The Gauchos entered the match with a 20-6 record against EIVA (Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association) teams and 5-0 against Ivy League opponents. The loss represented UCSB's first loss to an EIVA team since Mar. 2011, their first loss ever against a non-Penn State EIVA member, and their first loss ever against an Ivy League opponent.
Senior middle blocker Dylan Davis led the way on both sides of the ball for the Gauchos, finishing with team highs in kills (8), hitting percentage (.727) and blocks (7). Dylan was only able to get in 11 swings throughout the match, but he was highly efficient on the attack and ever moreso on the block.
Junior libero Chad Kingi did an admirable defensive job, picking up a match high 13 digs, one off his career high.
Throughout the match, the Gaucho outsides struggled. No hitter player more than two sets, except for sophomore Kevin Donohue who subbed into serve in the decisive fourth game. Evan Licht and Austin Kingi recorded twin lines of seven kills on 15 swings, while Miles Evans, Matt Marsh, and Weston Nielsen each put down six kills.
The Tigers were led by Pat Schwagler, who had a match-high 19 kills. Cody Kessel and Devin Stearns (14 kills apiece) joined Schwagler in double-digits, while Kessel and Will Siroky each contributed seven blocks in an impressive team effort.
"It was a disappointing loss for sure," said UCSB head coach Rick McLaughlin. "But we're going to turn around and get right back at it tomorrow night."
The road does not get much easier, as they will face reigning NCAA champions UC Irvine tomorrow night at 7 p.m. They will conclude the week with a Friday night matchup against UC San Diego.