Gauchos Suffer 3-1 Loss at CSUN

Corey Chavers (photo by Eric Isaacs)
Corey Chavers (photo by Eric Isaacs)

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -- No. 11 UC Santa Barbara suffered a four-set defeat to No. 8 CSUN on Friday night at the Matadome, with set scores of 16-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-23. 

UCSB dropped to 9-9 with the loss, bringing its winning percentage to .500 for the first time since February. Losers of four straight, all against AVCA top-10 teams, the Gauchos are now 2-3 in league play. CSUN meanwhile improved to 13-7, 3-2. 

The Gauchos were led offensively by junior outside hitter Corey Chavers, who had 13 kills on .208 hitting. However, four different hitters had at least seven kills as the team finished with a .212 attacking clip. Junior middle blocker Connor Drake (career-high nine block assists) and sophomore setter Randy DeWeese (seven blocks) headlined the team's defensive efforts. 

CSUN was paced by Arvis Greene Jr.'s 17 kills. The Matadors narrowly outhit the Gauchos for the match, finishing with a .218 hitting percentage.

UCSB came out firing in the game's opening set, taking advantage of early CSUN miscues to take a 5-1 lead off the bat. Careful hitting - CSUN had eight errors in the set, twice as many as UCSB - and a balanced attack - UCSB received multiple kills from four separate players - allowed the Gauchos to maintain a solid lead throughout, taking their biggest lead at 19-9 on a tap-down kill from freshman middle Jack Truman (eight kills on .500 hitting overall for the night). 

The Matadors began their charge back in the second, using a 9-5 run off a 16-16 tie to even the match. The home squad put together its best performance in the third, hitting at a .444 clip while UCSB struggled to a -.125 mark. 

UCSB actually outhit CSUN by a sizable margin in the fourth, .385 to .233, but eight kills from Greene Jr. turned out to be the difference in the end. A DeWeese ace at 14-12 was the last time the Gauchos would lead, as an ensuing error followed by three straight points for CSUN put the hosts up for good. Greene knocked down three kills as part of a 5-3, match-clinching run at the end of the fourth. 

The Gauchos and Matadors will play again on Saturday night at Rob Gym in Santa Barbara, with first serve scheduled for 7:00 p.m.