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Irvine Storms Out, Blanks Gauchos

Defending national champions throw strength around at home.

No. 14 UCSB had its three-match win streak broken Saturday as it fell on the road, 3-0, to reigning national champion UC Irvine. The No. 7 Anteaters swept the Gauchos, 30-23, 30-25 and 30-28.

UCSB (7-8 overall, 5-6 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play) got 11 kills, six digs and a career-high eight blocks from Jeff Menzel, a freshman opposite from San Marcos High. However, the Gauchos hit just .134 (39-24-112) for the match.

UC Irvine (9-9, 6-7 MPSF) was paced by Jon Stellar with a match-high 16 kills.

The Anteaters cruised to the 30-23 win in the opening game. Down 22-21 in game two, they scored six-straight points on a Cory Yoder kill, three aces and two Gauchos attack errors to give UCI a 27-22 advantage. They never trailed again and took the 30-25 win.

UCSB led 22-18 in game three, but the Anteaters scored the next four points on the strength of Steller’s serving, which included an ace, to tie the Gauchos at 22. UCSB made a run of its own, scoring the next four to go back on top, 26-22, only to watch UCI score the next four to tie it again, 26-26. The teams traded points until a UCSB service error was followed by a Cole Reinholm kill for the 30-28 Anteaters victory.

The Gauchos were dominant on the block, holding a 16.5 to 7.5 advantage.

Outside hitters Mike Fisher, a senior from Santa Barbara High, and Phil Mathews, as well as middle blocker Theo Brunner, all had seven kills for UCSB. Mathews had a team-best nine digs, while Brunner matched a career high with eight blocks.

For UCI, setter Ryan Ammerman totaled 41 assists, three service aces, eight digs and three blocks in the win. Libero Brent Asuka had a match-high 13 digs.

UCSB will play at UC San Diego on Friday, Long Beach State on March 1 and March 5 at Cal State Northridge.

Scott Flanders is UCSB‘s associate media relations director.

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