Gauchos Look to Bounce Back During Three-Match Road Trip

Gauchos Look to Bounce Back During Three-Match Road Trip

Week 2 Game Notes

• The Schedule
Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2018 at 7:00 PM
No. 12 UCSB at No. 6 UCLA
Pauley Pavilion - Los Angeles, Calif.
Video: PAC-12 Network
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Bruins – 37-126 / Lost 5
UCLA Streak / Last 5 – Won 2 / 4-1
UCSB Streak / Last 5 – Lost 2 / 3-2
Last Meeting: Mar. 28, 2018 - UCLA def. UCSB, 3-0

Friday, Jan. 18, 2018 at 4:00 PM PT
No. 12 UCSB at No. 14 Ball State
Worthen Arena - Muncie, Ind.
Video: ESPN+
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Cardinals – 15-4 / Won 5
Ball State Streak / Last 5 – Lost 3 / 2-3
UCSB Streak / Last 5 – Lost 2 / 3-2
Last Meeting: Mar. 10, 2018 - UCSB def. BSU, 3-0

Saturday, Jan. 19, 2018 at 4:00 PM PT
No. 12 UCSB at No. 13 Purdue Fort Wayne
Gates Sports Center - Fort Wayne, Ind.
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Mastodons – 20-2 / Won 7
Purdue Fort Wayne Streak / Last 5 – Won 4 / 4-0
UCSB Streak / Last 5 – Lost 2 / 3-2
Last Meeting: Mar. 9, 2018 - UCSB def. IPFW, 3-0

• The Week in Review
The No. 12 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team dropped a pair of closely contested battles to an evenly matched No. 5 Pepperdine program in home-and-home matchups last week. At UCSB last Wednesday, the Gauchos came within one point of a 3-0 sweep, however, the Waves changed the tide and completed a reverse sweep for a heartbreaking five-set victory. On Friday in Malibu, Pepperdine held off UCSB 3-1 to snag the season series. 

• The Week Ahead
The Gauchos will look to bounce back and return to the win column with a trio of matches on the road, beginning this Wednesday, Jan. 16 at No. 6 UCLA on the PAC-12 Network. From there, UCSB will head to Indiana for a match with Ball State on Friday, Jan. 18 followed by a meeting with Purdue Fort Wayne on Saturday, Jan. 19. 

• Battle with the Bruins
Former MPSF conference foes, UCLA owns a 126-37 advantage in the all-time series against the Gauchos. Under head coach Rick McLaughlin, however, the gap has been much smaller with the Bruins holding a 21-10 advantage, while eight of those wins for UCSB have come at home. UCLA is off to a 4-1 start, but lost last week to CSUN 3-0 in the Matadors home opener. The Bruins are led by junior opposite Brandon Rattray (60 kills, 3.75 k/s), senior setter Micah Ma'a (168 assists, 10.5 a/s, 31 digs, 1.94 d/s) and junior middle blocker Daenan Gyimah (34 kills, 2.27 k/s, 15 total blocks). 

• Clash with the Cardinals
UCSB holds a 15-4 all-time record against Ball State and have won the past five meetings, including a 3-0 sweep in Rob Gym last season. Keenan Sanders, a nominee for Big West Player of the Week this week, had 14 kills in that match last season while finishing with eight digs. The Cardinals are off to a 2-3 start, losing their last three matches via sweeps from ranked opponents UC Irvine, Stanford and BYU. Ball State is led by Matt Szews (45 kills, 2.65 k/s, 26 digs) and setter Jake Romano (119 assists, 8.5 a/s). 

• Matchup with the Mastodons
The Gauchos are 20-2 all-time against Purdue Fort Wayne, including wins in the last seven meetings. Last season in Santa Barbara, the Gauchos swept the Mastodons 3-0 behind 13 kills from Keenan Sanders, 11 kills from Corey Chavers, 10 kills from Connor Drake, 12 digs from Roy McFarland and 42 assists from Randy DeWeese. The 'Dons are off to a 4-0 start this season with sweeps over NJIT, Princeton, Lees-Mcrae and Queens. They are led by junior OH Pelegrin Vargas (40 kills, 3.64 k/s) and setter Michael Keegan (109 assists, 9.91 a/s). 

• Tough Schedule
From here on out, UCSB has the toughest schedule in the nation with its future opposition boasting a combined win percentage of .779 (67-19). Four of the Big West programs rank in the Top-6, and when including matches already played, Santa Barbara ranks second with its cumulative opposition win percentage at .725 (74-28).

• Poll Position
In the most recent American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Poll, UCSB slid two spots to No. 12 after a pair of losses to Pepperdine. Big West foe and defending National champion Long Beach State (5-0) remains at No. 1, while fellow Big West programs UC Irvine (5-0) and Hawai'i (3-0) moved up one spot each to rank No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. With a win over UCLA, CSUN moved up to No. 10 to give the Big West five teams in the Top-12. All three of the Gauchos' opponents this week are ranked: No. 6 UCLA, No. 13 Purdue Fort Wayne and No. 14 Ball State. 

• Freshman Phenoms
Three freshmen, Haotian Xia, Ryan Wilcox, and Brandon Hicks have proven themselves early on and made immediate impacts for an already deep and talented UCSB team. In his first career start, Xia logged a game-high 14 kills and is second on the team with an average of 2.78 kills per set. Both Xia and Wilcox have already garnered Big West Freshman Player of the Week nominations with their performances. Wilcox has made three starts and tallied 12 kills in a five-set loss to Pepperdine. Hicks, meanwhile, played a significant role in UCSB's last match with 10 kills and five blocks at Pepperdine. 

• Big West Preseason Coaches Poll
The Gauchos were picked to finish fourth in the Big West Conference, according to the annual preseason coaches poll. With 36 points, including all six first-place votes, reigning Big West and NCAA champion Long Beach State was a unanimous choice for the No. 1 slot in the poll. Hawai'i came in second with 28 while UC Irvine was a close third at 26. UCSB came in at No. 4 with 16 votes followed by CSUN with 11 and UC San Diego with nine.