Gauchos stuffed by Pepperdine

No. 6 UCSB wasn’t able to sustain the momentum from an upset of No. 3 Stanford last week in Thursday night’s match against Pepperdine. The Gauchos dropped their penultimate match of the season on the road by scores of 29-27, 25-16 and 25-21.

UCSB falls to 14-13, 11-10 MPSF and is in danger of falling to an even .500 record for the first time since early February. No. 13 Pepperdine improved to 10-15, 6-15 MPSF.

The Gauchos were led by senior opposite Cullen Irons, who led the match with 17 kills. It was the first time since Mar. 11 against Penn State that Irons led the team in kills. Combined with his 23 kills in his last match, Irons has racked up 40 kills in the past two outings —  his highest two-match output of the season.

Senior outside Jeff Menzel chipped in 11 kills, and middles Dylan Davis and Scott Slaughter also had strong attacking nights. Davis, a sophomore, recorded seven kills on a .500 hitting percentage, while Slaughter, a senior, had nine kills on a match-leading .615 hitting percentage. Senior setter Vince Devany recorded 44 assists, and senior libero led the Gauchos with five digs.

Pepperdine outblocked the Gauchos 12.5 to 2.5 as a team, and held UCSB to a .282 hitting percentage while maintaining a lofty .438 clip of their own. The Waves were led by Matt Pollock, who recorded a match-high eight blocks to go along with nine kills. Chase Ross and Maurice Torres turned in 11 kills each to pace the Waves.

No Gaucho recorded more than two blocks, while six Pepperdine players were able to record two or more.

Heading into the final match of the season at No. 1 USC on Saturday, the Gauchos are set to play at either No. 2 BYU or No. 3 Stanford in the first round of the MPSF playoffs — both teams that the Gauchos defeated in the regular season. The final standings are contingent on both the Gauchos’ Saturday match and the result of No. 7 Long Beach State’s final match.