March 12, 2007
Santa Barbara, Calif. - After dropping the first two games of the night, the fourth-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team came back to win the next two frames, but fell short in the fifth and lost a non-conference match against No. 6 Penn State Monday at Robertson Gymnasium.
Penn State (12-2) started strong and won games one and two by scores of 30-24 and 30-28. UCSB (14-9), which has now lost three straight and six of its last eight, rebounded to take game three, 30-28, and game four, 30-19, before the Nittany Lions capped the victory with a 19-17 edge in the fifth and final set.
Penn State opened with a .500 attack percentage in the first game, but started to slide in game two. However, the Nittany Lions picked it back up in game five, hitting .550 with 13 kills and just two errors in 20 attacks. They finished at .385 for the night, just ahead of UCSB at .383. Solid play at the net also helped Penn State, which out-blocked Santa Barbara 15-8.5.
"We needed a better transition game," said UCSB head coach Ken Preston. "We had a lot of good opportunities but didn't get good swings on a lot of balls due to either bad sets or poor ball control on digs."
Opposite hitter Evan Patak led the Gauchos with 30 kills, while middle Theo Brunner totaled 20 kills, hit .760, and had five blocks. Libero Ben Brockman posted a match-high 15 digs and outside Bryan Berman added 10. Starting setter Bart Kowalski had 25 assists in two games before Max Klineman came in and recorded 39 in relief.
Three Nittany Lions hit double figures in kills as Matt Anderson led with a match-high 35. He was followed by Alex Gutor with 19 and Max Holt with 14. Anderson also had a team-best nine digs, while Holt, Luke Murray, and Max Lipsitz all notched six blocks.
UCSB out-hit Penn State in games two, three, and four.
"We started playing better after the first game and Max did a nice job setting Evan a bit more," said Preston. "Penn State is a very good team, the best in the East. They have some great athletes."
Both squads struggled from the service line with Penn State committing 24 errors and UCSB missing on 23 serves.
Santa Barbara, which had won the previous three meetings between the two teams, is now 3-2 in five-game matches this season.
The Gauchos host Cal Baptist in another non-league match-up March 14 at 7 p.m. The Lancers are the three-time defending NAIA national champions and are currently ranked No. 1 among NAIA teams.