Stanford takes out Gauchos in four

For the second time in as many nights, the No. 13 Gauchos were felled in four sets by a rival MPSF team from the north. On Saturday night, they lost to the fourth-ranked Stanford Cardinal 3-1, with game scores of 25-22, 25-21, 19-25, 25-18.

UCSB is now 0-2 in MPSF play, with a 2-4 overall mark. Stanford improves to 4-1, with a 2-1 conference record.

The Gauchos were led by junior outside hitter Miles Evans, who led the team in kills for the sixth straight time. The Santa Barbara City College transfer finished with a season-high 20 kills, which was tops amongst all players. He also hit a robust .438, which was good for second-best amongst the Gauchos.

Sophomore middle blocker Evan Licht was the recipient of a number of quick-strike sets on Saturday night, and he did not disappoint, finishing with a career-high 12 kills and a team-leading .529 hitting percentage.

Overall, the match was eerily similar to the loss against Pacific the night before. The first two games were marred by excessive attacking errors, followed by a resurgence in the third, and a fatal letdown in the fourth.

Over the first two games, UCSB accumulated 15 attackings errors, 10 of which occured in the first game. Stanford only had six attacking errors over those same two games.

The longer rallies between the two teams were unpredictable and required contribution from all 12 players on the court. Exemplifying this, junior setter Oliver Deutschman picked up a pair of kills in the second set, finishing the night with three. Unfortunately, that was not enough to make up for the ineffective attacking of the team as a whole. Two UCSB starters would finish the set, and the match, with a negative hitting percentage.

For the second night in a row, a few lineup changes and a competitive attitude yielded a third-game resurgence for UCSB. Miles Evans led the way with eight kills in the frame. More importantly, he registered four of those kills after the Gauchos had 20 points to put them over the top. Freshman outside hitter Kevin Donohue, who came into the match in the third, had four of his five kills during the game. Aces by Licht and freshman opposite Matt Marsh sealed the deal for UCSB.

Any momentum gained during the third-game victory was not apparent during the fourth set, as the Gauchos were held to a lowly .095 hitting percentage and were unable to record a block as a team. UCSB fell behind early in the set, following an early service ace by Stanford’s Eric Mochalski, and were never able to regain the lead.

Following the match, UCSB head coach Rick McLaughlin commented on the loss: “We didn’t block very well tonight, that’s a weakness for us right now. But we competed at a much higher level tonight, and that’s encouraging looking forward.”

After hosting their first six matches of the season at Rob Gym, UCSB will now hit the road for an extended period of time. Next friday, Jan. 27, they will play at UCLA’s Wooden Center, before heading to USC and Pepperdine the following week. The Gauchos will not return to Rob Gym until Feb. 10, when they will take on UCLA.