The No. 5 UCSB men’s volleyball won its sixth straight match on Thursday night at Rob Gym, sweeping Cal Lutheran 25-20, 25-17, 25-10.
The Gauchos (11-4) were able to go deep into the bench as they pulled away in each set, but junior outside hitter Ryan Wilcox still made his presence known more than any other player with 12 kills (4.0 K/set) on a .381 hitting percentage.
Freshman Geste Bianchi went for four kills (.500) and sealed the match with a strong ace that trickled over the net. Andrew Reavis got his first two career kills and set a personal-best with four digs.
Sophomore Rees Barnett has made his mark as a serving specialist in recent weeks and was at it again against the Kingsmen (8-6). He put away two aces, bringing his total to six (0.46 SA/set) over his last four.
It was another highly efficient offensive outing for middle blocker Donovan Todorov, who went for five kills (.667) and two blocks.
FIRST SET: 25-20 UCSB
Junior opposite Haotian Xia returned to the starting lineup for the first time since January. He only played in the opening set, leading the Gauchos with three kills to go along with two digs and a block.
Tied 5-5, a Xia kill was followed by a putaway from Wilcox and an ace by middle blocker Brandon Hicks, forcing a timeout as UCSB gained separation for the first time.
Overpowering attacks from Wilcox would help the Gauchos take their largest lead of the opening set, 21-14. The Kingsmen made a late 5-1 run, but UCSB cleaned things up late before winning the set on a CLU service error.
SECOND SET: 25-17 UCSB
It was a bit of a sloppy start to set two for Santa Barbara, but back-to-back aces from Barnett would spur a 4-0 run to break the home side out of a 12-12 tie.
UCSB’s lead grew to as large as nine points as Wilcox continued slamming it down at the net with ferocity. He had six of his 12 kills in game two along with an ace.
The Gauchos would win the set 25-17 on another Kingsmen service error.
THIRD SET: 25-10 UCSB
Set three ended as the most lopsided of the year for the Gauchos. They started things with a 5-0 start capped by a Bianchi kill and block, before a rare dig kill from the CLU back line stopped the bleeding just for a moment.
Sophomore middle blocker Reece Francke came off the bench to immediately deliver an ace right down the middle, making it 14-5. Soon after, the Gauchos took their first double-digit lead of the night, 17-7, on a CLU attacking error.
The lead grew to its largest of 15 points on the final serve of the night, as Bianchi’s ace sealed the victory.
Michael Jorgenson writes about sports for UCSB.