STOCKTON — For the third time in as many tries this season, the No. 10 Gauchos came up short in a decisive fifth game, falling 3-2 to the No. 14 Pacific Tigers on Friday night at the Alex G. Spanos Center.
Game scores for the match went 26-28, 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 15-12. With the loss, UCSB — in the midst of a season-worst three match losing streak — moves to 3-4 with a 1-3 MPSF conference mark. Pacific improved to 3-2, 2-2 with the victory.
The pivotal point in the match came with the score tied at 9-9 in the fifth game. With Austin Kingi serving, an Adam Troy kill sparked a 3-0 rally for the Tigers that was only halted by a service error at 12-9. However, the damage had already been done by then, as Pacific cruised to the victory from there.
The Gauchos received a number of outstanding individual performances on Friday night, headlined by senior middle blocker Dylan Davis, who tied a career high with 14 total blocks — which is also tied for the second most single-match blocks in program history. Davis added seven kills and hit at a team-best .438 clip.
Freshman setter Jonah Seif had the first triple double by a Gaucho this season by recording 54 assists, 10 digs, and 11 blocks. Seif’s and Davis’s blocking exploits led the Gauchos to a season best blocking performance, as they recorded 22.0 team blocks, obliterating their previous best of 12.5 blocks against Loyola during the UCSB asics Invitational.
Sophomore opposite Matt Marsh matched his career-high in kills with a team-high 17. Both left side hitters had impressive games as well — sophomore Austin Kingi (13 kills, 12 digs) recorded his second double-double of the season — and senior Miles Evans put down 13 kills in his most extensive action of the season after dealing with injuries throughout the early part of the campaign.
Despite these performances, the Gauchos had their lowest team hitting percentage of the year (.168, Pacific hit at the same clip). They also shot themselves in the foot at the service line at times, recording 17 service errors, the second most by the team so far this season. It was the second time over the past three matches that the Gauchos committed five or more net violations.
Pacific was led by Taylor Hughes, who led all players with 25 kills and hit an astounding .442. Adam Troy added 16 kills of his own, while libero Javier Caceres constantly frustrated UCSB’s attack, recording a match-high 20 digs.
The Gauchos will not have much time to dwell on this loss, as they will travel to Palo Alto overnight in preparation for their Saturday night matchup against No. 4 Stanford.