No. 12 UCSB Wraps Up Regular Season against No. 3 UC Irvine

Photo by Eric Isaacs
Photo by Eric Isaacs

• The Schedule
Thursday, Apr. 12 at 7:00 PM
No. 12 UCSB (10-11, 3-5 Big West) vs. No. 3 UC Irvine (19-7, 5-3 Big West)
Rob Gym – Santa Barbara, Calif.
TV: Big West TV
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Anteaters – 46-30 / Lost 2
UCSB Streak / Last 10 – Lost 2 / 4-6
UCI Streak / Last 10 – Won 2 / 8-2

Saturday, Apr. 14 at 7:00 p.m.
No. 12 UCSB (10-11, 3-5 Big West) at No. 3 UC Irvine (19-7, 5-3 Big West)
Bren Events Center – Irvine, Calif.
TV: Big West TV

• The Week Ahead
UCSB wraps up the regular season with a pair of matches against No. 3 UC Irvine beginning on Thursday, Apr. 12 at 7:00 p.m. when the Gauchos host the Anteaters at Rob Gym. On Saturday, Apr. 14, UCSB will travel to UCI for the regular season finale at the Bren Events Center at 7:00 p.m. Live stats and a video broadcast of both can be found on UCSBGauchos.com.

• The Week in Review
Last week, the Gauchos dropped a pair of matches to No. 6 Hawai'i at home, falling 3-0 (25-16, 25-15, 26-24) on Friday before dropping a 3-1 (25-20, 25-27, 25-21, 25-14) decision to the Rainbow Warriors on Saturday night. Junior outside hitter Corey Chavers led UCSB in Friday night's match with a game-high 13 kills while hitting .370. Sophomore setter Randy DeWeese tallied 25 assists while Roy McFarland led the Gauchos with seven digs. UH outhit the Gauchos .459 to .173 in the match and were tough at the net with 21total blocks on the night. On Saturday, Chavers racked up 21 kills, his most since Feb. 21 against Pepperdine, and Keenan Sanders also reached double-digit kills with 13. The UH defense, however, proved to be too much as the Rainbow Warriors finished with 45 digs and 23 total blocks.

• Seeding Scenarios
After No. 1 Long Beach State clinched the inaugural Big West title and top seed for next weekend's Big West Tournament, the remaining teams are battling for position during the final week of the regular season. Both Hawai'i and UC Irvine are tied in second place with a 5-3 conference record while CSUN and UCSB are both 3-5. If a four-way tie occurs, meaning UCSB sweeps UCI, LBSU sweeps UH and CSUN sweeps UC San Diego, CSUN would hold the tiebreaker over the other three teams due to set win percentage against the other tied teams. The Matadors are 12-10 while UH is 10-11, UCI 10-6 and UCSB 5-10.

• UC Irvine Matchup
The Anteaters have won seven of the last eight meetings against UCSB, four of which have gone a full five sets. Both matches last season went in favor of UCI after both went five. The Anteaters have been hot as of late, having gone 8-2 in their last 10 matches, with their two losses coming against No. 1 Long Beach State. 6-foot-8 opposite Karl Apfelbach leads the team with 375 kills for an average of 3.79 kills per set. Aaron Koubi, Joel Schneidmiller and Scott Stadick are also threats offensively with over 200 kills and more than 2 kills per set apiece. Dante Chakravorti has dished out 1,033 assists on the year for an average of 10.43 assists per set and David Parker leads the team with 242 digs (2.40 digs per set).

• Serve It Like It's Hot
While UCSB has done well generally in the serving department as a team – UCSB's 1.38 aces per set ranks in the top-20 nationally – the team has been buoyed by the standout work of Randy DeWeese and Corey Chavers, who both rank in the top-five league-wide for aces per set. UCSB is the only Big West school that boasts two players in the top-five, and one of just three programs with a pair in the top-10. DeWeese ranks third in the league and 19th in the nation with a 0.43 aces per set ratio and matched his season-high with four aces against CSUN last Saturday. Chavers, meanwhile, ranks fourth in the conference at 0.39 aces per set and is coming off his 10th multi-ace outing of 2018. 

• Rank and File
UCSB appeared in the AVCA Division I-II national poll for the 12th consecutive time this week, dropping just one spot to No. 12 after falling twice to No. 6 Hawai'i. This week's opponent, UC Irvine held steady at the No. 3 position for the second straight week, its highest ranking of the season. After this week, UCSB will have played a top-10 team in 10 straight matches to close out the season, surpassing its streak of seven straight games against top-10 teams it set earlier in the year. UCSB is 5-10 against top-10 teams in 2018. 

• Sanders Succeeds on the Right Side
A freshman All-American (2.22 K/S, .373 hitting percentage) as a middle blocker in 2017, sophomore Keenan Sanders has made a successful transition to the right side this season, posting 3.69 kills per set since his season debut on Jan. 25, good for fifth in the league. He has led the Gauchos in kills in 11 of the last 15 matches, including a trio of 20-kill performances highlighted by a career-high 24-kill outing against Lewis on Jan. 27. The San Diego native has been named Big West Player of the Week twice in 2018.

• Battle Tested
Entering the weekend, UCSB has the single-toughest season schedule of any NCAA team. The Gauchos' past and future opponents have combined for a .606 winning percentage, highest in the country. UCSB is one of just two schools nationwide with an opponents' winning percentage north of 60%. Including this week's contests, UCSB has played a top-10 opponent in 78% of its matches this season (18/23). 

• Yould Be Sorry You Swung Towards Him
Grady Yould has transitioned seamlessly into the starting libero spot for the Gauchos, boasting a 2.25 digs per set rate that has led the league for most of the season (now tied for second, just .15 behind leader David Parker of UC Irvine) and ranks 23rd nationally. His 18 digs on Mar. 2 against UCSD equaled a career-best and set a new single-match high for any Big West player. 

• California Boys
As is usually the case, the 2018 UCSB men's volleyball team is comprised solely of California natives. The Gauchos are the only NCAA Division I-II team made up entirely of players from California.