HONOLULU, Hawai'i – For the second time in as many days, the No. 8 Gauchos came out on top at Hawai'i, sweeping the No. 12 Warriors 3-0 on Saturday night at the Stan Sheriff Center with set scores of 25-21, 25-20, 25-19.
UCSB, winners of seven straight and nine of their last ten matches, improves to 14-12 overall and 10-10 in MPSF conference play. The Gauchos moved up a spot in the standings after their victory, now sitting in-sixth place, just one game behind fifth-place Pepperdine.
Tenth-place Hawai'i fell to 9-16, 8-14 and saw its playoff chances go from slim to almost none with the loss, likely needing to win out and get help from at least two teams above them in the standings.
Junior opposite Evan Licht was the offensive star for the Gauchos on Saturday night, recording a match-high 18 kills – twice as many as the next highest player, Austin Kingi's nine – and picking up the team's only service ace. The Manhattan Beach, Calif. native has now put down double-digit kills in eight of the last ten matches.
UCSB's .349 to .132 hitting percentage advantage was quite sizable, as Hawai'i's two top hitters – Brooke Sedore and Sinisa Zarkovic – were both held to negative clips. Licht (.433), Kingi (.353) and Miles Evans (.333) were all more than efficient at the forefront of the Gaucho attack.
Freshman setter Andrew Kocur contributed heavily in his second consecutive match seeing action, picking up 37 assists in the three sets and chipping in four digs. Sophomore Jake Staahl led the UCSB middles, collecting a team-high four blocks and adding three kills on five swings.
The Gauchos controlled the majority of the match, never even trailing in the first and third sets. Down 12-14 in the middle set, UCSB went on a 6-0 run, receiving a pair of kills each from Licht and Kingi to go along with two Hawai'i attacking errors that put the Gauchos back on top 18-14. The Gauchos would not relent from there, claiming the set on a Hawai'i service error and rolling through the Warriors in the third set to take the win.
Next week, the Gauchos will face a pair of tough tests, traveling to Riverside, Calif. to take on Cal Baptist – with whom they are tied in the standings -- on Wednesday night before hosting the BYU Cougars – who have already clinched the top spot in the conference – on Friday night. Tickets for Friday night's match can be purchased here.