Despite winning the opening set for the second straight day on Friday at Rob Gym, the No. 11 UCSB men’s volleyball team fell to USC in four sets: 20-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-22.
Junior opposite Haotian Xia led the Gaucho attack once again with 13 kills, also adding an ace.
For the second straight match, junior outside hitter Ryan Wilcox was second on the team with 12 kills. He also tied Xia for a team-high with six digs.
Junior middle blocker Brandon Hicks recorded nine kills and five digs. He finished with a team-leading .438 kill percentage and had the Gauchos’ only solo block.
Sophomore outside hitter Sam Collins had a personal-best with seven kills to go along with four digs.
The Gauchos were outblocked 6-2 and outhit .342 to .205.
But the night started out well for UCSB, which won the first set 25-20.
The Gauchos (0-2) came out hot to open the match, nearly doubling the Trojans with a .37 hitting percentage in the first set.
UCSB’s first lead came when Xia put away one of his six opening game kills to put the home side up 12-11.
Santa Barbara didn’t hold an advantage of more than three points until its final run. The Gauchos scored the final three points of the set, capped by an explosive ace from Xia.
The Trojans (2-0) came right back with a convincing answer, opening set two with seven unanswered.
UCSB wouldn’t pull within closer than five points the rest of the way, as the team was held to a .000 hitting percentage. USC won the set 25-17.
The Trojans went on to win the third set 25-18.
Both teams’ offenses were finding their mark in the third game, with USC hitting a match-best .526 to the Gauchos’ .300.
Following a 9-9 tie, the Trojans took control with a 12-5 run and didn’t look back.
Wilcox’s seven kills (.500) were more than any player in a set on the day.
And USC won the fourth set 25-22.
The back-and-forth final set was the most tightly contested of the match. UCSB overcame an earlier three-point deficit and took a 17-15 lead on a USC service error.
However, the Gaucho attack couldn’t find a way past the Trojans from there, as the visitors went on a 5-0 run.
UCSB shaved three points off of a four-point deficit, pulling within one at 23-22 on a Hicks kill, but the Trojans scored the final two points to seal the deal.
The Gauchos return to action at 3 p.m. Tuesday to face Saint Xavier in the last of a three-match home stand.
Michael Jorgenson writes about sports for UCSB.