MALIBU, CALIF. — A couple of nights after falling to No. 3-ranked UCLA, the men’s volleyball team (6-4, 5,3) experienced more problems and lost to No. 15-ranked UCSB (3-6, 1-4) in four sets, 3-1 on Feb. 3.
Although the No. 8-ranked Waves finished with 11 more kills, the Gauchos over compensated for the deficit on the defensive end, setting up a blocking clinic with 15 to the Waves’ six.
Junior outside hitter Maurice Torres still managed to put on a show with 24 kills and seven digs, despite being cut up by an overhead light that broke in the fourth set. Freshman outside hitter Josh Taylor added 16 kills.
The Waves started the match on the wrong foot, as the Gauchos jumped out to a 10-15 lead. However Pepperdine never gave up, as they pulled together a 7-2 run to tie up the game, 21-21, but it was not enough and they lost the first set 26-24.
Into the second set, Torres made multiple attempts to calm the rest of his team, but a few quick two-touch hits by the Gauchos threw the Waves off-guard. UCSB also seemed to have luck on their side, winning all of the long rallies, and the whole set, 25-21.
The Waves, unwilling to be swept, shot back at the Gauchos in the third set, fighting ahead to a 24-21 lead. A hitting error finally gave the men’s volleyball squad a set win, 25-21.
The highlight play of the fourth set was when Torres kept the ball alive by kicking it, and it led to a well-earned point to put the team up, 6-5 early on.
For the rest of the set, the Waves tried maintain the upper hand, yet eventually they allowed the Gauchos to creep back in, 19-20.
A few plays later, a ball nailed one of the lights in Firestone Fieldhouse, sending glass spraying across the court. Torres, who was diving as the light broke, nicked his wrist and leg, but continued to play.
After the whole fiasco, which caused a delay of game to clean up the mess, the Waves returned to the court recharged, scoring two quick points. They put up a valiant effort taking the Gauchos to 28 points before losing, 28-26.
The Waves hope to stop their two-game losing streak at USC (5-4, 4-4) on Friday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m.