Gauchos Go Undefeated at North American Challenge

Photo by Eric Isaacs
Photo by Eric Isaacs

LONG BEACH, Calif. – The No. 10 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team started its season off strong by sweeping the competition at the North American Challenge, hosted by Long Beach State, during the final weekend of 2018. The Gauchos won all four exhibition matches in which they competed, defeating Canadian universities Alberta and McMaster two times apiece.

"This was great experience for our team to compete against a few of the top Canadian universities," said UCSB head coach Rick McLaughlin. "This will serve as a valuable tune-up for the UCSB Asics Invitational this week."

UCSB def. Alberta, 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-23)
The Gauchos opened the tournament with a 3-0 sweep over the University of Alberta, outhitting the Golden Bears .355 (31 kills-9 errors-62 attempts) to .242 (28-12-66) throughout the match. Spencer Fredrick and Corey Chavers tallied seven kills apiece while Casey McGarry dished out 25 assists to pace UCSB on the offensive end. McGarry, along with Fredrick and Jack Truman, each recorded four service aces as the Gauchos dominated service with 14 aces to just five from Alberta. UCSB also proved difficult at the net, outblocking the Golden Bears 7-0.

UCSB def. McMaster, 3-2 (22-25, 23-25, 27-25, 25-20, 15-13)
In the most exciting match of the weekend, the Gauchos erased a 2-0 deficit to win three straight games and steal a five-set victory over McMaster University. Roy McFarland and Chavers came up clutch in the third set to keep the Gauchos alive, with McFarland recording back-to-back kills for the 24th and 25th points and Chavers providing the final spike for game point. The momentum carried over into the fourth and fifth sets where the Gauchos sealed the comeback. Chavers finished with an impressive 20 kills on 47 attempts for a .340 hitting percentage and Keenan Sanders also reached double-figures with 11 kills at a team-high .391 clip. McGarry and Randy DeWeese handled the setting duties with 26 and 17 assists, respectively, while Hayden Boehle led the team with 11 digs. UCSB was incredible defensively at the net, racking up 28 total blocks, including a team-high seven block assists from Sanders.

UCSB def. McMaster, 2-0 (25-17, 25-23)
The Gauchos turned right around the next day for a rematch with the Marauders and snagged both games in a best-of-three match. Firing on all cylinders, UCSB hit .367 (29-7-60) while holding McMaster to a .087 (15-11-46) percentage. Haotian Xia (8-3-17) and Brandon Hicks (8-0-9) led the Gauchos with eight kills apiece, Brad Maricle notched six, and DeWeese tallied 26 assists. 

UCSB def. Alberta, 2-0 (25-19, 25-23)
In another best-of-three match on Monday afternoon, the Gauchos did not give up a set for the third match in the tournament and second time against Alberta. UCSB stayed hot from its earlier match and hit .433 in the opening frame with 18 kills and just five errors on 30 attempts. Ryan Wilcox led the offense with nine kills on 17 attempts for a .353 hitting percentage and McGarry was back at it with a team-high 18 assists and four digs.

UCSB opens the regular season this Thursday, Jan. 3 at 3:00 p.m. against Harvard in Rob Gym. The season opener also serves as the kick-off to the annual UCSB Asics Invitational, which features nine games in three days.

For a complete Asics Invitational schedule and to purchase tickets, click here.