Gauchos spikers fall to Bruins in four

The No. 8 UC Santa Barbara men’s volleyball team could not crawl back from a two-set deficit, falling 3-1 to No. 6 UCLA Wednesday night at Robertson Gymnasium. Set scores were 30-28, 30-25, 19-30 and 30-24 in favor of the Bruins.

With the loss, the Gauchos fall to 6-8 overall, 6-5 in MPSF play. UCLA improves to 8-6 overall and 7-4 in conference play.

Sam Moisenco paced the Gauchos with a .615 hitting percentage, connecting on nine of 13 attack attempts with only a single error. Cullen Irons led UCSB with 11 kills, adding seven digs. Todd Travis also had 11 kills in the first action of his UCSB career. Vince Devany dished out 57 assists while libero Andy McGuire scooped a match-high 11 digs.

For the Bruins, Garrett Muagututia had a match high 18 kills and 21.5 total points. Jack Polales finished with 11 kills and four blocks. Ten different Bruins notched a kill on the night, as UCLA out-hit UCSB .228 to .222.


UCSB got off to a slow start, hitting just .203 as a team while dropping the first two sets of the match. Outside hitter Jeff Menzel, who currently leads the MPSF in kills per set and points per set, was forced out of the match midway through the second stanza after aggravating a leg injury. Blaine Nielsen filled in by adding five kills, five digs, and an ace in Menzel’s absence.

Down 2-0, UCSB head coach Rick McLaughlin selected Travis to start the third frame and it did not take long for the junior transfer to make an impact. On his first point as a Gaucho, Travis blocked a Muagututia attack attempt along the left side to give the Gauchos a 1-0 lead. A few points later, Travis would connect on consecutive swing attempts to give the Gauchos a 5-2 lead. After an ace by Nielsen was answered by a pair of UCLA points, kills from Nielsen, Scott Slaughter, and an ace from Moisenco would give the Gauchos a 9-4 lead.

This is as close as the Bruins would get in the third frame, as the Gauchos hit .400 to take the set, 30-19.

UCLA would prove to be too much in the fourth set, however, as the Bruins hit .367 (15-4-30) compared with just a .097 (12-9-31) clip from the Gauchos. Muagututia had eight kills in the frame as the Bruins cruised, 30-24.

The Gauchos will be back in action next week as they travel to Massachusetts on February 25 to take on Harvard. They will also compete in the Hall of Fame Classic in Springfield, MA, Feb. 25-26.

UCSB’s next home match is Wednesday, March 3 against defending national champions, UC Irvine. Match-time is set for 7 p.m.