MVB: Gauchos roar back to beat No. 1 Stanford in 5

UCSB's Austin Kingi led UCSB in kills against Stanford on Saturday night.

UCSB’s Austin Kingi led UCSB in kills against Stanford on Saturday night.

UCSB battled back from a 2-1 deficit and defeated top-ranked Stanford in a MPSF men’s volleyball match on Saturday night at a loud Rob Gym. The set scores were 25-13, 21-25, 12-25, 25-23, 15-12.

It marked the first since since a 2011 NCAA tournament win over USC, that the Gauchos knocked off the No. 1 team in the country.

“In our league, everybody could be number one,” UCSB coach Rick McLaughlin said. “We just go out and play. We have a good unit, they play together and they play hard, but we can always keep improving.”

Austin Kingi pounded 15 kills to lead a balanced UCSB attack. He had six in the crucial fourth set.

“Kingi is as steady as they come,” said McLauglin.

Evan Licht also was big in the fourth set with four of his 12 kills.

Ryan Thompson’s efficient hitting was instrumental in the comeback. The 6-9 middle had 11 kills on 15 swings.

Stanford’s attack was led by Steven Irvin’s 16 kills and Brian Cook’s 17 kills in the overall match.

The Cardinal were on fire in the third set, racking up six blocks at the net while hitting a torrid .609.

UCSB rediscovered its net presence in the fourth set and blocked five Cardinal attempts. Kingi slammed the final two kills to win the set and rally the UCSB faithful.

UCSB carried its momentum into the decisive fifth set. Weston Nielson and Ryan Hardy teamed up for a block on the first point. Again, the Gauchos’ net presence stymied the Cardinal attack, blocking six swings and forcing six attacking errors.

UCSB capitalized on its defensive prowess, with Thompson and Jonah Seif teaming up to win the final two points, and the match, with blocks. Thompson finished with a total six blocks, including a solo put back, while Seif had a part in four additional stuffs. Hardy, Licht, and Nielson each assisted in two blocks.

The UCSB Gauchos travel to Los Angeles on Tuesday for a heavyweight matchup against No. 6 UCLA before returning to Rob Gym next Saturday to face UC Irvine.