Pacific Falls to No. 14 UC Santa Barbara at UCSB/Elephant Bar Tournament


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Santa Barbara, Calif. - The Pacific men's volleyball team suffered a 3-1 defeat to tournament host, UC Santa Barbara, in the final match for both teams at the UC Santa Barbara / Elephant Bar Tournament on Saturday, Jan. 5.

The loss dropped the Tigers to 0-2 on the season, while UC Santa Barbara moved to 1-2 overall.

Game scores for the match were: 23-30, 17-30, 30-28 and 25-30.

The match started quickly with the Gauchos jumping out to a 4-1 edge, but Pacific's seniors Pekka Seppanen (Kuopio, Finland) and Simon Chen-Byerley (Northfield, Ill.) rallied their team. Seppanen started the rally with a cross-court kill from left to right. Seppanen then stepped back to serve and Chen-Byerley blocked the first attack from UC Santa Barbara to make it a 4-3 game. Seppanen followed with Pacific's first ace of the match to tie game one at 4-4. The two teams battled back and forth into the middle of the game. The turning point in game one, however, came from the Gauchos. With the Tigers leading 13-12, UC Santa Barbara scored five of the next six points to grab a 17-14 lead, creating a critical three-point separation. The Gauchos offensive efficiency maintained their lead late into the game as UC Santa Barbara took game one, 30-23. Pacific hit .269 in the first game, with 13 kills and six errors on 26 attempts, however the Gauchos posted a .500 hitting percentage with 14 kills and only two errors on 24 swings.

An early edge for UC Santa Barbara in game two had a lasting effect. The Gauchos nabbed the first four points of the second frame and did not look back. Pacific rallied to within two points on several occasions, but each time UC Santa Barbara delivered an answer. UC Santa Barbara pushed its lead to nine points at 18-9 midway through the game. The Gauchos went on to claim the second game, 30-17. The Tigers were outhit, .684 to .222 in game two as Pacific had nine kills and five errors on 18 attempts, while UC Santa Barbara punched out 15 kills and just two errors on 19 swings.

Playing in a must win game in game three, the Tigers needed a guiding light to lead them to a victory, and that light was junior Jeff Hendershot (Claremont, Calif.). Behind his eight kills on nine swings earning a .889 hitting percentage, Hendershot carried Pacific for a majority of the game. The back and forth offensive battle continued throughout the entire game, with the score never being more then four points apart. One of those four point leads saw the Tigers holding an 18-14 edge, when UC Santa Barbara rallied for five of the next six points to tie the score at 19-19. The game resumed its back-and-forth battle until each team held 28 points marking the 12th tie of game three. With the match in the balance, Pacific freshman Tyler D'Edigio (Calabasas, Calif.) turned an overpass into a backhanded quick attack to give the Tigers a 29-28 lead. The Tigers seized the opportunity as sophomore Kevin Pratte (Hemet, Calif.) and freshman Justin Burridge (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) roofed UC Santa Barbara's Jeff Menzel to secure Pacific's victory, 30-28. Pratte tallied three kills on six swings for a .500 hitting percentage during the game. The Tigers finished the game with a match-high hitting percentage of .542 with 16 kills and three errors on 24 attempts.

With momentum on their side the Tigers continued to play competitively with the Gauchos most of game four. The score continually flip-flopped throughout the game until it was 13-9 in favor of UC Santa Barbara. A series of mistakes plagued Pacific, and the Gauchos charged out to a 19-13 lead, and never looked back. A late surge for the Tigers, again behind Hendershot, brought the score to 28-23, but the Tigers couldn't claw all the way back and dropped game four, 30-25.

Hendershot totaled 16 kills on 26 attempts for a .500 hitting percentage, and Simon Chen-Byerley finished with eight kills on 13 swings for a hitting percentage of .417. For UC Santa Barbara, Menzel had 23 kills on 34 attempts for a .471 hitting percentage.

The Tigers will be back in action on Friday, Jan. 11 as Pacific begins a two-match road trip to Southern California by facing the defending NCAA Champion, UC Irvine, at 7 p.m. in Irvine, Calif.

Article courtesy of Pacific athletics.

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