The UCSB men’s volleyball team (3-9) were back in Rob Gymnasium after nearly two weeks off from play as they took on the Vanguard University Lions in their last non-conference match before Big West play begins. It took four sets to decide the winner between the Gauchos and the top-ranked NAIA team in the country, but it was UCSB who came out with the win (25-23, 25-23, 25-23, 25-20).
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Gauchos had a slow start as they got back in the swing of things after a few weeks off from playing while Vanguard was in search of their second win over a Division I opponent this season. The Lions were up by six points over the Gauchos by the time the first timeout was called. Once UCSB returned to the court, they went on a 6-1 run which included back-to-back aces from Jack Walmer to give the Gauchos a chance to take this first set. However, even with the run, it wasn’t enough to top the Lions as UCSB dropped the first set 25-23.
That was all the Gauchos would give to Vanguard. The next three sets were a close battle between these two tough teams, but UCSB was not about to give up this match. Even with three tight sets, it was UCSB who prevailed. They came back to take the three remaining sets 25-23, 25-23 and 25-20, giving them a solid non-conference win before beginning Big West play on Friday.
LOOKING AT THE NUMBERS
– Redshirt freshman Owen Birg was one of two Gauchos to register a double-double in tonight’s match. He ended his night in Rob Gym with 19 kills while also adding on 10 digs.
– Walmer was the other Gaucho to put up a double-double this evening. He led the team’s offense as their only setter, securing 42 assists. To go along with that, he helped the defense in the back row by securing 12 digs. He ended up leading the team from the service line as well, adding on five aces.
– Ryan Wilcox was a dominant force on offense for UCSB. He contributed 14 kills to the team’s efforts while also assisting on four blocks.
– Santa Barbara native Sam Meister had the most productive outing in the front row for the Gauchos. He registered seven kills with only one error on 13 swings as he hit at a .462 clip, the best for the team this evening. He also assisted the front row defense with two blocks.
– Libero Max Gordon was making key plays in the back row for the Gauchos, keeping the ball alive even when it seemed to hit the ground. He ended tonight with a match-high 13 digs.
The Gauchos will return to Rob Gymnasium today, as they host UC San Diego for the opening night of Big West play. The team will welcome back their alumni while giving all fans crazy wigs to support the Blue and Gold. First serve will be at 7 p.m. with a live stream through ESPN+. Live stats will also be available through ucsbgauchos.com.
Kristen Keller is the associate athletic director for communications and digital strategy at UCSB.