IRVINE, Calif.- The Gauchos' season is officially over with a first round playoff loss to UC Irvine (26-24, 22-25, 20-25, 25-19, 15-10). UC Santa Barbara finishes at 15-16 overall, 11-13 MPSF while UC Irvine improves to 23-6 overall, 19-16 MPSF, and will play the winner of Stanford versus Long Beach state.
The Gauchos found themselves in familiar territory as the 7th seed in the MPSF tournament, but were unable to maintain energy throughout the game. The Gauchos went into UC Irvine having lost the previous 6 matchups.
After fighting strong but losing in the first set, UCSB fired on all cylinders to win the next two sets. The Gauchos dominated the third set by winning the first five points and four of the last five points of the set. The fourth set saw another strong battle, going back and forth before Irvine took control late to win the last six of seven points to tie the game at two sets each. The Anteaters carried that energy into the decisive fifth set where the Gauchos were unable to rally from behind.
Senior middle blocker Dylan Davis, a member of the 2011 runner-up team, finished strong with 6 kills and another 4 blocks, finishing his career with 441 blocks. Davis accrued 151 total blocks and a .438 hitting percentage this season to earn him all-MPSF honors, an award he hadn't received since freshman year. His 1.37 blocks per game average ranked third in the country.
Evan Licht pounded the Anteater defense with an astounding 19 kills to finish as the leading Gaucho in kills with 246 for the season. Adding to the assault was junior outside hitter Grant Goswiller with 15 kills of his own. Licht and Goswiller both tallied two aces from behind the line.
UC Irvine players Zack La Cavera, with 19 kills, and Kevin Tillie, with 15 kills as well as two aces, matched UCSB offensively on the other side of the net. Likewise defensively, the Anteaters as a team produced 25 total blocks against the Gaucho offense.
UCSB Rick McLaughlin provided closure to the season by acknowledging the standout season performances of Davis and Seif and added, "much of the success these two players have had could not have happened without the great play of their teammates." The Gauchos say goodbye to graduating seniors Grant Goswiller, Miles Evans, Dylan Davis, and Matt Silver but will look to the encouraging talent from the remaining squad.