Evans leads Gauchos in kills in fourth straight

In the last match for the Gauchos before conference play begins next week, Rick McLaughlin’s squad quickly dispelled the Cal Baptist Lancers in straight sets. Game scores for the match were 25-23, 25-17, 26-24.

The Gauchos were led by junior outside hitter Miles Evans, who led all players with 12 kills. The Santa Barbara City College transfer has led his team in kills in each of the first four matches to start the season.

With the win, the Gauchos close out their pre-conference schedule with an even .500 record of 2-2. Cal Baptist falls to a winless 0-3, having faced exclusively MPSF opponents thus far.

Freshman outside hitter Chris Hartig also had a strong night on the attack, picking up 10 kills. Chris has recorded 10 or more kills in both matches that he has appeared in, having tallied a career high 16 against Cal State Northridge in the UCSB/asics Invitational Tournament.

Junior middle blocker Dylan Davis, though failing to record a block for the first time since Mar. 31, 2011, had a typically dependable night on the quick-strike, finishing with a match-high .538 hitting percentage on eight kills.

For Cal Baptist, Kristopher Johnson had an impressive night, leading his team with 10 kills and finishing with a .444 hitting percentage. Johnson also led all players with seven blocks.

The first set was a relatively close one. The two teams were within mere points of each other at the outset of the match. With Cal Baptist leading 15-14 and Dylan Davis serving, a block by sophomore middle blocker Evan Licht and Miles Evans ignited a seven-point run that was aided by several Lancer errors. Five consecutive attacking errors and a receiving error by Cal Baptist put the Gauchos up 21-15. The Lancers were able to fight back and bring the score as close as 24-23, but a Dylan Davis kill sealed a game victory for UCSB.

Defense was the story of the second set. UCSB held the Lancers to a match-low .050 hitting percentage during the game, while the Gauchos hit .286. Cal Baptist recorded four team blocks in the first game, but they only had one in the second game. Chris Hartig had half of his 10 kills in the frame.

A two-nil game advantage afforded UCSB Head Coach Rick McLaughlin the opportunity to insert some of his lesser-used reserves into the match. Junior outside hitter Grant Goswiller and freshman outside hitter Jake Staahl recorded a pair of kills apiece. Sophomore setter Bryce Miller picked up an assist in his UCSB debut.

McLaughlin noted the slow, but steady, progress of his team heading into MPSF play: “We’ve been able to play well for two games in our previous matches, and tonight we made it to two-and-a-half. We’re just going to keep trying to go farther.”

The Gauchos begin their conference schedule next weekend with matches against Pacific and Stanford at Rob Gym on Friday, Jan. 20, and Saturday, Jan. 21.