Resilient Tigers Comeback To Down Gauchos 3-2

Stockton, Calif. –
 For the second straight match against UC Santa Barbara, Pacific Men's Volleyball defeated the Gauchos in comeback fashion with a five-set decision in the Alex G. Spanos Center on Friday, January 25. The two Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) teams battled for five sets, but the Tigers came out victorious 3-2 (26-28, 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 15-12).  The second set included Pacific overcoming a 17-11 deficit to take the game and momentum in the match.

Leading Pacific in the match was Taylor Hughes and Adam Troy, each picked up season-highs in kills. Hughes finished the night with 25 kills to hit .442, while Troy tallied 16 kills. Passing on the night was excellent for the Tigers all started by junior libero Javier Caceres. He finished the match with a season-best 20 digs.

The victory improves No. 14 Pacific to 3-2, 2-2 MPSF, while the loss drops UCSB to 3-4 and 1-3 in conference play.

The Gauchos needed a late rally in game one, but they overcame a 22-19 deficit to take the set 28-26. For Pacific, Troy led in game one with five kills on nine attacks to hit .333.  Pacific also received a pair of kills from Hughes and Matthew Houlihan. At the net, Christian Ahlin and Tommy Carmody each collected a solo block and a block assist in the set. Senior setter Patrick Tunnell tallied ten of his 30 assists in the opening game, while Caceres added a team-best four digs.

Game two seemed in the hands of UCSB as they took a 17-11 lead, but the Tigers would storm back with seven straight points to take an 18-17 advantage. After a point to tie it by UCSB, the Tigers would start another run with four straight points to take the 22-18 advantage. Despite two more points by the Gauchos, a Hughes slam in the middle of the UCSB defense ended the game, culminating with a Pacific 25-20 victory.

Hughes and Troy set the tone for the comeback, picking up six and four kills, respectively. Pacific's defense was phenomenal totaling four blocks including block solos from Tunnell and Hughes. The passing duo of Tunnell and Caceres was excellent, Tunnell picked up eight assists and Caceres tallied a set-best eight digs.

The Gauchos seemed unfazed by the Tigers rally in game two and opened up the third set with an 8-4 advantage, but again the Tigers would rally and the teams found themselves tied at 12.  After ten ties and a pair of lead changes, UCSB eventually took the third game 25-21. 

Hughes and Troy added five and four kills, respectively, in the loss. The outside hitters each hit over .550 with Hughes finishing at .571 and Troy at .556. Tunnell added 12 assists for the Tigers. Freshman Christian Francheschi added all three of his kills in the game. 

It was a back and forth struggle between the two squads in game four, but Pacific outlasted the Gauchos. Hughes had his best set of the match collecting eight kills on nine swings to hit .889, propelling the Tigers to a 25-23 victory. Hughes also added a pair of block assists and a block solo in the game.

Also, helping the Pacific attack was Ahlin, Carmody and Houlihan, each tallied a pair of kills. Houlihan added a set-best five digs in the frame.  Seeing his first action of his college career, freshman Marco Grasso picked up 10 of his 18 assists in the set.

Game five was tied until the nine-all mark, but a kill by Troy gave the Tigers an 11-9 lead they would not surrender. To cap the fifth set Hughes laid a thunderous slam down the left side giving Pacific a 15-12 set and match victory. Hughes again led Pacific in the set with four kills, while Ahlin and Troy were not far behind with two. Grasso was key in the set picking up eight assists.

The Tigers return to the court on Sunday, January 27 with a match against No. 4 UCLA.