Gauchos Fall to CSUN in Big West Tournament

Randy DeWeese (photo by Eric Isaacs)
Randy DeWeese (photo by Eric Isaacs)

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Playing in the inaugural Big West Men's Volleyball Tournament on Thursday night at Walter Pyramid, No. 5 seed UC Santa Barbara fell 3-1 (25-18, 30-28, 12-25, 28-26) to No. 4 seed CSUN in a first round matchup.

"I thought we started a little bit late," said head coach Rick McLaughlin. "We squeezed into a battle at the end of the second game but that was a big loss that second game. Credit to Northridge, they upped their level and did a good job."

CSUN got off to an early start behind a .375 hitting percentage compared to a .038 clip for the Gauchos, and would take the opening set 25-18. After a Matadors attacking error made the score 12-12, CSUN would grab the next three points to create some separation before pulling ahead for good later in the set.

"We have more guys that just aren't experienced in this playoff environment and we were a little nervous and it showed especially in the first game." Said McLaughlin. "We got it going a little bit late in the second game and I thought our guys started fighting. Arvis (Greene) controlled the match at the end when he needed to and that's what great guys do."

The Gauchos played an inspired second set to try to even the tally, but fell in a 30-28 battle. With the score tied up at 18-18, CSUN scored three straight to pull away, but UCSB answered back with three straight of their own, capped off by a Corey Chavers kill. Moments later, the Gauchos trailed 24-22, but Chavers came through clutch with two straight kills to tie the game. UCSB had two chances at game point, but CSUN put together a run after kills from Dimitar Kalchev and Arvis Greene.

UCSB bounced back in a big way with a 25-12 third set victory behind a .444 hitting percentage with 14 kills and just two errors on 27 attempts. The Matadors, meanwhile, suffered through a -.032 percentage. The Gauchos scored the first five sets of the match and jumped out to an early 10-2 lead while cruising to the set victory.

The fourth set featured a heated back-and-forth battle and needed extra points to settle the score. Chavers and Roy McFarland provided late-game heroics for the Gauchos, but CSUN snagged the set and match with a 28-26 win.

CSUN advances to play No. 1 Long Beach State on Friday.

Chavers finished with 21 kills to lead UCSB while Keenan Sanders also reached double figures with 10. Randy DeWeese tallied 28 assists while Connor Drake led the team at the net with eight total blocks.

Greene and Kalchev led CSUN with 20 and 15 kills, respectively.

UCSB finishes the season with an overall record of 11-13, 4-6 and return its entire roster for next year.