MVB: Gauchos stay hot by sweeping UCSD

LA JOLLA – The eighth-ranked UC Santa Barbara men’s volleyball team set a number of rally scoring program records by virtue of a 3-0 sweep (25-14, 25-15, 25-15) over UC San Diego on Friday night at the RIMAC Arena.

Head coach Rick McLaughlin’s Gauchos now have sweeps in four straight contests and have won 14 consecutive sets, both of which are the best in program history in the rally scoring era. Their five match overall winning streak is the program’s longest since 2013, when the Gauchos won seven straight.

The Gauchos improve to 11-5 on the season with a 7-5 record in MPSF conference play. Struggling UCSD drops to 2-14, 0-11.

Sophomore outside hitter Jacob Delson needed just 19 swings on Friday night to record 11 kills, which led all players. His .500 hitting percentage only trailed Jake Staahl among the Gauchos, as the senior middle blocker had six kills on nine attempts for a .556 clip.

Senior opposite Weston Nielsen (eight kills) and senior outside Kevin Donohue (six kills) rounded out UCSB’s offense, while junior All-American setter Jonah Seif chipped in four kills, his most since the second match of the season, all the way back on Jan. 9. He also finished with 32 assists and two of UCSB’s three aces.

As a team, the Gauchos outhit the Tritons by over 300 points (.354 to .047). UCSB has now held their opponents to an attacking clip under .100 in three straight contests, the longest such streak for the team this season.

In the first set, UCSB established its presence at the net, as five different players combined to record five blocks. Staahl played a huge part in the opener, as four of his team-leading five total blocks came in the opening stanza. The Gauchos’ efforts at the net led the Tritons to record a -.094 hitting percentage for the set, including 10 attack errors.

It was all UCSB in game two, as a Seif ace highlighted a 6-2 run to open the middle frame. Nielsen had his most effective attacking performance in the second game, recording half of his eight kills. From the service line, he was also part of a 7-1 run that cemented the game for the Gauchos at 21-11.

Delson then absolutely took over the final game, knocking home eight kills in the clinching set. He opened the frame with back-to-back kills and then recorded his only ace as part of a 7-2 UCSB run. Later, another Delson kill capped off a smaller 4-1 Gaucho run that brought the score to 19-11, forcing UCSD into a timeout. UCSB ended the match by winning the final four points – including two Staahl quick attacks – with Seif ending the contest on his second ace.

The Gauchos look to keep their winning streak rolling tomorrow night as they travel to face third-ranked UC Irvine at the Bren Events Center. First serve is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. UCSB is 2-1 against top-five teams so far in the 2015 season.

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