A dominant blocking effort from No. 3 Brigham Young University spelled doom for No. 12 UC Santa Barbara, who fell to the Cougars by a score of 3-1 on Friday night, with game score of 28-30, 25-17, 25-16, 25-22.
The Gauchos fall to 4-9 (2-7) with Friday’s defeat, while BYU, winners of five straight, improves to 11-3 with a 7-2 conference record.
The Gauchos were led by junior outside hitter Miles Evans, who picked up 13 kills on the night, pushing his streak of 10-plus kill matches to six straight. Evans was just one dig away from a double-double, finishing with nine. Freshman outside hitter Kevin Donohue followed up his double-double from last Friday with an 11-kill, two-ace performance on Friday night. However, both players were held under a .100 hitting percentage for the night, combining for a total of 20 of UCSB’s 31 attacking errors.
Sophomore libero Chad Kingi finished with 12 digs, the fifth match in a row in which he has recorded nine or more digs. Junior setter Oliver Deutschman had a strong night as well, pulling off several acrobatic back-sets on the way to 38 assists and nine digs.
The Cougars, who are operating without Taylor Sander, the reigning MPSF Freshman of the Year and conference leader in kills and points, received outstanding performances from three players. Middle blocker Russ Lavaja, who entered the game ranked third in the conference in blocking, led all players with 11 block assists. Senior outside hitter Robb Stowell had a match-high 17 kills, and setter Joe Kauliakamoa did a little bit of everything against the Gauchos, recording a career and season-high six kills and a team-high nine digs on top of his 47 assists.
For the match, UCSB was outblock as a team 19.5 to 9.0 by BYU. That blocking advantage extended past that single statistic however, as the Gauchos were also held to a measly .105 hitting percentage. In fact, UCSB’s team hitting percentage was held under .100 in each of the final three sets, whereas the Cougars averaged a .259 clip for the match.