SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – After leading the UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team to a pair of sweeps over non-conference opponents last week, redshirt junior middle blocker Connor Drake was named the Big West Defensive Player of the Week, the league office announced on Monday afternoon.
It was the first-ever Big West weekly award for Drake, who helped the Gauchos improve to 9-5 on the season after topping Fort Wayne and No. 10 Ball State at Rob Gym last week for the team's fourth and fifth consecutive victories.
In Friday night's triumph over the Mastodons, Drake posted six total blocks, which was twice as much as any other player on the court. His efforts at the net helped hold Fort Wayne to a .187 hitting percentage. He was no slouch on offense either, posting his second double-digit kill performance of the year with 10 kills on .368 hitting.
The next night against the Cardinals, he added three blocks while needing just eight swings to land five kills. His jump float serve was also in tip-top shape, helping the Gauchos dominate the serve-and-pass battle.
Monday's accolades served as the fifth time this season a Gaucho has received a weekly award from the Big West, joining sophomore opposite Keenan Sanders (two-time Big West Player of the Week), junior outside Corey Chavers (Player of the Week on Jan. 22) and sophomore setter Randy DeWeese (Defensive Player of the Week on Mar. 5).
Drake and the rest of the Gauchos face their toughest test of the season thus far this week, traveling to No. 1 Long Beach State on Thursday night before hosting the undefeated 49ers at Rob Gym on Friday night.