MVB: Gauchos fall short in MPSF playoff match

IRVINE — UCSB went down fighting against second-seeded UC Irvine in the first round of the MPSF playoffs on Saturday. The Gauchos took the Anteaters to the limit but fell short, 26-24, 22-25, 20-25, 25-19, 15-10.

UCSB finishes its season at 15-16 overall while UC Irvine improves to 23-6 overall.

After dropping a tight first set, UCSB fired on all cylinders to win the next two sets. The Gauchos dominated the third set by winning the first five points and four of the last five points of the set. The fourth set saw another strong battle, going back and forth before Irvine took control late to win the last six of seven points and tie the match at two sets each. The Anteaters carried that energy into the decisive fifth set, and the Gauchos were unable to rally.

Senior middle blocker Dylan Davis, a member of the 2011 runner-up team, finished strong with 6 kills and another 4 blocks, ending his career with 441 blocks. Davis accrued 151 total blocks and a .438 hitting percentage this season to earn him all-MPSF honors, an award he hadn’t received since freshman year. His 1.37 blocks per game average ranked third in the country.

Jake Staahl, Jonah Seif, and Evan Licht also assisted on at least three each. Seif received an all-MPSF honorable mention as well an all-Freshman team nod.

Licht pounded the Anteater defense with 19 kills to finish as the leading Gaucho in kills with 246 for the season. Adding to the assault was junior outside hitter Grant Goswiller with 15 kills.

UC Irvine players Zack La Cavera, with 19 kills, and Kevin Tillie, with 15 kills as well as two aces, matched UCSB offensively on the other side of the net. Defensively, the Anteaters as a team produced 25 total blocks against the Gauchos.

UCSB Rick McLaughlin provided closure to the season by acknowledging the standout season performances of Davis and Seif and added, “much of the success these two players have had could not have happened without the great play of their teammates.”