UCSB Takes Down No. 5 Loyola Chicago for Fourth Straight Win

Ryan Wilcox (left) had 14 kills and Randy DeWeese (right) recorded a double-double with 33 assists and a career-high 14 digs in a 3-1 win over No. 5 Loyola Chicago on Saturday night. (Photo by Arthur Wilkie)
Ryan Wilcox (left) had 14 kills and Randy DeWeese (right) recorded a double-double with 33 assists and a career-high 14 digs in a 3-1 win over No. 5 Loyola Chicago on Saturday night. (Photo by Arthur Wilkie)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Senior outside hitter Corey Chavers continued his torrid stretch with 20 kills on Saturday night to lead the No. 10 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team to a 3-1 (23-25, 33-31, 25-16, 25-22) upset victory over No. 5 Loyola Chicago inside Rob Gym.

With 20 kills on a season-high .475 hitting percentage, Chavers is averaging 19 kills over his past four matches, all of which have been Gaucho wins.  

"This is a great win for our team," said head coach Rick McLaughlin. "We've trained well the past few weeks and have competed well against four Top-15 opponents. We look forward to facing a very good BYU team twice next week in Rob Gym. Should be a battle."

After dropping the first to the Ramblers (6-2) in close fashion, UCSB (7-3) pulled out a crucial second set, 33-31, to avoid going down 2-0 and instead, rallied for the four-set win. The Gauchos hit .304 (50-16-112) to Loyola Chicago's .260 (54-22-123) percentage and now have four straight games hitting above .300 during the current win streak.

In the marathon second set, both teams spoiled four match point opportunities until Chavers came through with a kill to seal the game and tie the score at 1-1.

With all the momentum on their side, UCSB rolled out to a big lead in the third set and held the Ramblers, who hit just -.038 (7-8-26), from any comeback attempt. Randy DeWeese was phenomenal yet again from the service line, putting together back-to-back aces for the second straight night, and sparking a big 10-3 run from the Gauchos in the third.

Midway through the fourth set, with the score tied 14-14, Chavers took over with three kills in a matter of four plays to put UCSB ahead 17-15. Loyola Chicago climbed back to tie the score at 20-20, but Ryan Wilcox, along with Brandon Hicks and Keenan Sanders, teamed up for back-to-back blocks to give the Gauchos the separation they needed for the win.

DeWeese had another strong all-around night and set a new career-high with 14 digs to go along with 33 assists and four blocks for the double-double. Wilcox notched a career-high of his own with 14 kills while Haotian Xia and Hicks added six apiece. Hicks also led the team with five total blocks and Hayden Boehle added 12 digs and eight assists.

The Gauchos continue their home stand with back-to-back matches against BYU next Friday, Feb. 1 and Saturday, Feb. 2 at 7:00 p.m. in Rob Gym.