Santa Barbara, Calif. – After two tough losses last week, the Gauchos remained resilient to overtake the Trojans in a 3-1 win on Wednesday night. UCSB out-swung, out-dug, and out-blocked the opposition to win in four sets (25-23, 25-19, 21-25, 25-17). The victory boosts UCSB's record to 15-14 overall, 11-12 MPSF. With the loss, the Trojans fall to 6-17, 6-17.
In close first set, the Gauchos were set apart by their remarkable blocking. Dylan Davis picked up three total team blocks, including 2 solo blocks. Jonah Seif came up with three total team blocks and Jake Staahl had two. UCSB's four service aces helped it squeak past USC and finish the first set 25-23.
Evan Licht came alive in the second set, slamming double digit kills over the Trojans. The Gauchos hit at a collective .357 clip to run away with the second set. Still, USC would not let up and were able to overtake UCSB in the third. The Gauchos reduced the Trojan lead to one at 20-21, but could not hang on. In the end, Cristian Rivera and Henry Cassiday knocked down eight and six kills respectively in the third to hurt UCSB.
In the fourth and final set, the Gauchos rocketed off to a stellar start. They created a seven-point lead with a hard kill from Austin Kingi. Austin Kingi had six kills in the fourth set alone, including the game-winning slam to send the Trojans packing.
Undoubtedly, the Gauchos were a strong cohesive unit. As a team, UCSB ended the night with 47 kills, 42 digs, 16 total team blocks, and a season-best 10 service aces. Keeping up his high level of play, Licht led the night with 19 kills and a career-high four service aces. Austin Kingi dominated on both offense and defense, picking up nine kills, three service aces and 11 digs. At the net, Jake Staahl shut down USC's offense with eight total blocks. Davis and Seif were right behind him with 6 total blocks each.
Key players for the Trojans included Rivera, who put down 19 kills, and Austin Rysyk, who recorded 11 kills. J.B. was central to their defense, sweeping up 12 digs.
UCSB definitely picked up momentum with the win. They secured no lower than a seventh spot in the MPSF tournament and are fighting to finish the season strong. The Gauchos finish off the regular season with a final home game against Pepperdine Friday night. Friday night's game will also serve as UCSB's Senior Night.