MVB: Hanley in a groove as Gauchos sweep Tritons

SAN DIEGO – Senior outside hitter Matt Hanley’s career best performance for kills (20), at a .731 clip, and service aces (3) drove UC Santa Barbara’s sweep of UC San Diego (25-20, 25-16, 25-18). The Gauchos improve to 10-5 overall, 9-5 MPSF as the season progresses into its second half.

UCSB jumped out early to a 7-1 lead with two strikes from Hanley and a critical block by Jonah Seif and Jake Staahl. The Tritons responded with two of their own blocks to pull within a single point before the Gauchos called a timeout. Following the timeout, Hanley slammed three straight kills to force UCSD to call their own timeout. He hit eight of his total 20 kills in the first set and nailed a service ace as well. From that point on, the Gauchos were able to pull away and clinch the set.

Carrying the momentum from the first set, UCSB capitalized on the clutch net presence of Staahl and Seif. Staahl blocked three straight attacks, Seif assisting in two of those, while Weston Neilson had a hand in the other. The duo of Seif and Staahl were able to deny four attacks each on the night. Additionally, Staahl pounded nine kills with a .583 clip. Evan Licht’s three service aces helped the Gauchos cruise to win the second set.

UCSD rallied in the beginning of the third set to challenge the Gauchos’ win. The Tritons kept the score within two points and were then able to tie the score at 13. However, UCSB rediscovered their inspired play, going on a 12-5 point run to finish off the match. Key to the strong play was Hanley’s six additional kills and two service aces.

Hoping to maintain their momentum and strong play, UCSB returns home to face UCLA in the Events Center next Wednesday at 7 p.m. followed by a rematch with UCSD next Friday. UCLA previously defeated the Gauchos in Westwood in straight sets.