No. 4 Gauchos Sweep NAIA's Top-Ranked Team
March 14, 2007
Santa Barbara, Calif. - The No. 4 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team ended a four-match home stand Wednesday with a 3-0 sweep over non-conference opponent Cal Baptist, the top-ranked NAIA squad in the nation, at Robertson Gymnasium. Middle blocker Theo Brunner hit .786 with 11 kills as the victory snapped a three-match skid for the Gauchos.
Scores of the match were 30-25, 30-24, and 30-22. UCSB improved to 15-9 overall, while Cal Baptist dropped to 15-8. The Lancers, the three-time defending NAIA national champions, have lost two in a row after enjoying a three-match win streak.
Brunner, ranked fourth in the country in hitting percentage, was on fire as he pounded the 11 kills with no errors in 14 attempts. He also chipped in with three blocks, a pair of service aces, and a dig. In the opening game, the Ridgefield, Conn. native put away all five of his attempts for kills.
Outside hitter Bryan Berman had 10 kills, three aces, and three digs for the Gauchos, while opposite Evan Patak finished with nine kills, five of those coming in the third set. Patak, the nation's leading ace specialist, served up three on the night as UCSB held a 9-0 advantage from the service line. Setter Max Klineman amassed 37 assists and helped the Gauchos to a .371 attack percentage for the match. Libero Ben Brockman had a co-match-best eight digs.
UCSB set a new single season record as the Gauchos have aced opponents 175 times to date. The old record was 168, set in 2005.
The Lancers got a match-high 19 kills out of Donald Baliaba and another 11 from Yukai Sun. Baliaba equaled Brockman with eight digs and Ralph Asmar stuffed five UCSB attacks. Setter Eric Plunkett racked up 41 assists. CBU hit .289 for the match and out-dug the Gauchos 27-19.
Cal Baptist out-blocked UCSB 7.0 to 3.5 in the first game as Asmar had four on his own, but the Gauchos held an 8.5 to 8.0 edge when all was said and done.
The two teams will meet again, this time in Riverside, on March 27 at 7 p.m.