Santa Barbara, Calif.- The No. 14 UCSB Gauchos (8-12, 6-10) cruised to victory over #4 Stanford (12-7) in three sets (25-18, 25-19, 25-19), avenging an earlier loss against the Cardinal on the road. Stanford lacked an answer for UCSB's dominant services while the Gauchos were able to maintain a strong defensive presence to prevent Cardinal scoring opportunities.
UCSB's strong net presence and strong service game started and established control of the match overall early in the first set. At the net, the team had seven total blocks and allowing only one Cardinal player to have a hitting percentage greater than .000. Leading the defense was sophomore middle blocker Jake Staahl with a hand in 3 blocks out of his 4 overall, averaging 1.33 blocks per set. Staahl's block per set average on the season previously was 1.24.
Services from behind the line were equally formidable. Junior middle blocker Evan Licht, with Staahl, delivered four aces against Stanford's defense with Dylan Davis slamming an additional four kills. Licht's two kills came back to back as part of a strong Gaucho finish to the first set, winning five of the last six points.
The second set saw a reversal, as the Cardinal took over the early UCSB net presence with four blocks of their own. The Gauchos struggled to carry their late first set momentum over and managed to battle back and forth to pull out second set win. Staahl kept his serving rhythm with two more aces that Stanford had still found no answer for. Dylan Davis and Jonah Seif each exploited the Cardinal defense with a service ace each. Seif's ace clinched the tight set.
UCSB reestablished dominance in the third set, proving the second set was a fluke. The Gauchos ran away with the match after a UCSB timeout tied at 16, taking nine of the final 12 points in the set. Staahl padded his block per set average with his fourth of the game out of the team's 14 total blocks. Licht and Miles Evans split the remaining two service aces. Evans and Davis both finished with seven kills and a service ace.
Despite the defensive presence, the Cardinal were still able to net a strong attack performance from Brian Cook with 15 total kills and Steven Irvin with 11 kills. Ultimately, the lack of service defense and overall game errors in front of nearly 500 people in Rob Gym caved Stanford in.
UCSB looks to drive a late season winning streak, already having won three of the last four games, against Pacific tomorrow in Rob Gym at 4:00.