Gauchos Defeated in Four at No. 10 Lewis

Keenan Sanders (photo by Eric Isaacs)
Keenan Sanders (photo by Eric Isaacs)

ROMEOVILLE, Ill. – Playing its second match against a top-10 opponent in a 48-hour span, the fifteenth-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team was dealt a 3-1 loss (23-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-23) by No. 10 Lewis on Saturday afternoon at Neil Carey Arena. 

UCSB (3-3) was limited to a .191 team hitting percentage in the loss, the second straight contest in which the team was held under .200 after eclipsing that mark in four straight to open the year. Sophomore Keenan Sanders, who lined up at opposite against the Flyers, was the Gauchos' most productive offensive player with 24 kills, nearly doubling his previous career high (14). The San Diego native, who made his season debut on Thursday night at No. 7 Loyola, registered exactly half of the team's kills. 

Behind him, reigning Big West Player of the Week Corey Chavers finished with nine kills, while freshman outside hitter and Santa Barbara native Henry Hancock had five kills while co-leading the team in aces (two, alongside sophomore setter Casey McGarry) in his collegiate debut. 

Lewis (5-3) was led by Ryan Coenen's 15 kills, while opposite Mitch Perinar and middle TJ Murray combined for 14 blocks and 22 kills on .513 hitting. The Flyers finished with a .283 team hitting percentage. 

Thanks in part to nine kills from Sanders, the Gauchos were able to outlast Lewis in the first set despite the home team racking up 4.5 blocks and outhitting the Gauchos .333 to .286. UCSB opened its biggest lead of the set at 19-14 on a McGarry block, but had to weather the storm as Lewis came back to tie it at 21-21. Moments later, an ace from Roy McFarland re-established a multi-point lead for the Gauchos at 23-21, which set the stage for Sanders to record kills on two of the final three points to take the first set. 

The home team came roaring back in the second, using an early 8-2 run to go up 10-3. That early cushion proved to be decisive as neither team got into much of an offensive rhythm the rest of the way. 

Lewis rode that momentum to claim the final two sets in succession, outhitting the Gauchos by healthy margins in both frames. 

UCSB wraps up a five-match road trip next Friday and Saturday night at No. 5 BYU. The Gauchos' next home match is Wednesday, Feb. 21 against Pepperdine.