Gauchos Unable to Complete Comeback Against BYU, Still In Contention for Playoffs

Photo by Tony Mastres

PROVO, Utah—Coming within two points of a win in the fifth set against a BYU squad that remains undefeated at home (25-17, 22-25, 21-25, 25-18, 15-13), the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos slip to 14-7, 13-7 MPSF. Despite the loss, the Gauchos are still in contention for the post season with the possibility to host the first round match.

Providing another feeding frenzy with 51 assists, setter Jonah Seif helped put three Gauchos into double-digit kills figures— Evan Licht and Weston Nielsen both with 15 and Matt Hanley with 14. Seif's performance marks the fifth game with over 50 assists, his third in the past four games.

UCSB dropped the first set to BYU's dominant net presence and their own subsequent attack errors. However, the Gauchos were able to respond with six blocks and hold BYU to .107 clip in the second set. Jake Staahl led the Gauchos' overall 12 team blocks with an assist in seven blocks while Seif and Nielsen both had a hand in five blocks. 

Also in the second set, the offense found its footing to overcome BYU at the net and, in combination with UCSB's own defensive display, snatched the second set. The Gaucho attack fully developed by the third set as the team pounded 17 combined kills but could not maintain the building momentum into the fourth set. UCSB did not swing for higher than .161 clip in each of their losing sets.

BYU put up a dominant net presence with 15.5 blocks on the night. Taylor Sander primarily drove the Cougars success with 27 kills with an assist in eight blocks. In addition, Matt Underwood tacked on 11 kills with an assist in nine blocks.

The Gauchos continue their road trip as they face Long Beach St. next Thursday followed by Northridge next Saturday. UCSB then returns home for the final two matches of the season. UCSB finishes the season Friday, April 11 in a pivotal rematch at home against BYU.