Owen Birg recorded a career-high 25 kills, Ryan Wilcox added a 20-point, 17-dig double-double, and Jack Walmer provided a career-high 58 assists Saturday night as the UC Santa Barbara Men’s Volleyball team (4-11, 1-2 Big West) pushed No. 4 Long Beach State (11-2, 2-0 Big West) all the way to five sets Saturday night. Despite their impressive performance, the Gauchos dropped the fifth set to fall, 3-2 (25-21, 18-25, 20-25, 25-22, 11-15).
HOW IT HAPPENED
Like they did Friday night in Santa Barbara, the Gauchos came out strong in the first set, putting together a scoring run in the middle of the frame and another in the closing stages to pull away and win by four points. UCSB hit .366 in the opening set, recording 19 kills in the frame. They were also near-unbeatable on defense, digging 16 of the Beach’s 38 attacks
While the Gauchos kept pushing Long Beach State in the second and third sets, the hosts won both by comfortable margins. Needing a win to keep the match alive, UCSB seized the momentum back in the fourth set. The Gauchos were deadly accurate in attack, hitting .452 in the set en route to a 25-22 win.
In the decisive fifth set, UCSB matched the Beach blow-for-blow, except for one four-point scoring run early in the frame, which proved enough for the hosts to hold on and take the match.
ON THE STAT SHEET
– Three Gauchos finished with double-digit kills Saturday; Owen Birg led everyone with 25, followed by Ryan Wilcox’s 20, with Dayne Chalmers adding 10 of his own.
– Birg and Wilcox both finished with double-doubles (kills and digs): 25 and 10 for Birg, 20 and 17 for Wilcox.
– Jack Walmer added a double-double of his own, tallying 11 digs along with his career-high 58 assists.
– Wilcox’s 17 digs were a game high but not a career high; the senior from Honolulu had 18 in a match against on March 10, 2021, also against Long Beach State.
The Gauchos return to Rob Gym for their next match, hosting Harvard on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The match will be live on ESPN+ and live stats will be available through ucsbgauchos.com
Eric Boose is assistant director of athletic communications at UCSB.