No. 11 UCSB Bounces Back, Tops No. 8 CSUN 3-1

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

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – No. 11 UC Santa Barbara capped off a busy week with a 3-1 win over No. 8 CSUN on Saturday night at Rob Gym, avenging a four-set defeat from a night before and ending a four-match losing streak, all against top-10 opponents, in the process. Set scores were 25-21, 25-23, 19-25, 25-17.

UCSB improved to 10-9, 3-3 with the victory while the Matadors dropped to 13-8, 3-3 and saw a five-match winning streak come to an end. 

Junior outside hitter Corey Chavers paced the Gaucho offense in kills for the second straight night with 13, and also added a season-high 11 digs to notch his first double-double of 2018. Sophomore opposite Keenan Sanders (11 kills, nine digs, four blocks), freshman middle blocker Jack Truman (10 kills on .438 hitting, team-high six blocks), and junior middle blocker Connor Drake (five blocks) all played pivotal roles as well. 

Sophomore setter Randy DeWeese dished out 39 assists and ripped four aces to help the Gauchos dominate the Matadors in the service ace department at nine to one. Chavers also added a trio of aces while sophomore outside hitter Roy McFarland had a pair. 

CSUN had three double-digit kill performances and outhit UCSB .231 to .178 for the night, mostly by virtue of a stellar third set that saw the visitors hit at a .552 clip. The Matadors hit just .125 combined in the match's other three games. 

"This was a crucial turnaround for our team tonight," said UCSB head coach Rick McLaughlin. "We hope to keep that momentum going next week against Hawai'i."

Strong serving was the theme for the Gauchos in the opening set. DeWeese got the Gauchos off on the right foot with three straight aces, including a pair of jump serves off the tape and down, to put them up 6-1 early. A tricky jump float from Drake forced CSUN into back-to-back attack errors later on as part of 3-0 UCSB run that made it 13-7. CSUN would eventually cut its deficit to as small as two at 18-16, but soon it was DeWeese's turn to serve and he again punished the visitors, as UCSB ticked off three straight to gain a comfortable 22-18 advantage.  

It was Chavers who served the Gauchos into good scoreboard position in the second. Inheriting a 4-6 deficit when he took over, Chavers opened with an ace as part of 5-0 UCSB lead that made it 9-6. Much later in the set, Chavers helped the Gauchos break through and reach set point after his tip got over a triple block and found the back left corner of the floor. CSUN's Arvis Greene Jr. hit long on the next point to put the Gauchos up 2-0. 

CSUN got into quite the rhythm in the third set, hitting at a .552 clip as a team, recording no attack errors, and putting up five blocks. Dimitar Kalchev was especially potent for the Matadors, knocking down six kills on just eight swings. 

The match swung back in UCSB's favor in the fourth, with the Gauchos rushing out to a big 9-4 lead on long service runs from McFarland and DeWeese. The Gauchos kept the pressure on throughout the set, having their best single-game of the night at the net with six blocks, and eventually the lead ballooned to as much as eight. UCSB notched three blocks as part of a match-closing 6-2 run, which ended with a CSUN serve into the net. 

UCSB hosts Hawai'i for a pair of Big West matches next Friday and Saturday night in the penultimate week of regular season action. Both contests are slated for 7:00 p.m. starts.