No. 6 Gauchos Look to Continue Winning Ways at AVCA Showcase

No. 6 Gauchos Look to Continue Winning Ways at AVCA Showcase

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• The Schedule
Friday, Feb. 8, 2018 at 6:00 PM
No. 6 UC Santa Barbara (9-3) vs. Ohio State (4-6)
Walter Pyramid - Long Beach, Calif.
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Buckeyes: 7-2 / Lost 2
OSU Streak / Last 5 – Lost 1 / 2-3
UCSB Streak / Last 5 – Won 6 / 5-0
Last Meeting: Jan. 6, 2012 - OSU def. UCSB, 3-2

Saturday, Feb. 9, 2018 at 6:00 PM
No. 6 UC Santa Barbara (9-3) vs. Penn State (4-4)
Walter Pyramid - Long Beach, Calif.
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Nittany Lions – 8-7 / Lost 2
PSU Streak / Last 5 – Lost 2 / 3-2
UCSB Streak / Last 5 – Won 6 / 5-0
Last Meeting: Mar. 3, 2017 - PSU def. UCSB, 3-1

• The Week in Review
The No. 6 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team stretched its winning streak to six games with back-to-back sweeps over No. 3 BYU at home over the weekend. The Gauchos handled the Cougars 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-20) on Friday night and turned right around with another 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 27-25) sweep on Saturday. 

• The Week Ahead
This week, Santa Barbara will play its first neutral site matches of the season when it travels to Long Beach for the AVCA Showcase. UCSB will take on Ohio State, who received votes in the latest AVCA poll, on Friday night and unranked Penn State on Saturday. There will be no live stream of the matches, but live stats will be available. 

• What a Streak
UCSB has now won six straight matches, all coming against AVCA Top-15 ranked opponents. The streak started after a three-game skid that the Gauchos snapped by topping No. 14 Ball State and No. 13 Purdue Fort Wayne in Indiana. Since then, UCSB has won four straight at home, overcoming No. 9 Lewis in five sets, followed by a four set win over No. 5 Loyola-Chicago and back-to-back sweeps over No. 3 BYU. The last time UCSB won six in a row was in April of 2016 when the Gauchos were also ranked No. 6. 

• Battle with the Buckeyes
UCSB's run of playing 11 straight AVCA ranked opponents will end on Friday as they play Ohio State (4-4), who dropped out of the poll and is receiving votes this week. The Buckeyes are coming off a 3-0 loss to Purdue Fort Wayne, who the Gauchos defeated 3-1 earlier this season. UCSB is 7-2 all-time against OSU, with its only losses coming in five sets in the 2011 NCAA Championship game and in their last meeting in 2012. OSU is led by 6-10 sophomore opposite Jake Hanes (133 kills, 5.32 k/s), setter Sanil Thomas (256 assists, 10.2 a/s) and middle blocker Blake Leeson (36 blocks, .97 b/s).  

• Penn State Preview
UCSB is 8-7 all-time against the Nittany Lions but fell 3-1 in their last meeting in 2017. Hayden Boehle had a 10-kill, 12-dig double-double in that match and Spencer Fredrick contributed a team-high 12 kills.  Penn State is 4-4 this season, coming off a 3-1 loss to No. 7 Loyola-Chicago and a 3-0 sweep at the hands of No. 10 Lewis. The Nittany Lions are led by senior outside hitter Matthew McLaren (68 kills, 2.72 k/s), junior middle blocker Jason Donorovich (67 kills, 33 blocks) and setter Cole Bogner (202 assists, 8.08 a/s). 

• Chavers and Wilcox Repeat as Big West Weekly Award Winners
After leading UCSB to a pair of sweeps over No. 3 BYU last Friday and Saturday, Chavers was named Big West Player of the Week and Wilcox earned Freshman Player of the Week for the second week in a row. Chavers racked up 33 kills on an incredible 5.50 kills per set average while hitting .309 (33-12-68) over the course of the two matches. Wilcox, meanwhile, tied his career-high with 14 kills on Saturday, going without an attacking error on his way to hitting .667 (14-0-21). Wilcox had seven kills in the first set alone to set the tone for the night and finished with seven digs.

• Battle Tested
Overall this season, Santa Barbara has played 11 straight AVCA Top-15 ranked opponents, going 8-3 against them. UCSB has the second toughest schedule in the nation when looking at its cumulative opposition, currently with a .665 winning percentage (161-81). Down the stretch, the Gauchos face the fifth toughest schedule with its remaining opponents boasting a .673 win percentage (99-48). 

• Double-Double for DeWeese
One week after junior setter Randy DeWeese had a career-high 14 digs along with 33 assists for his first double-double of the season, the Sacramento, Calif. native notched 11 digs and 34 assists in a 3-0 sweep over No. 3 BYU. DeWeese has been doing a little bit of everything for the Gauchos, leading the team with 263 assists (6.26 a/s) while ranking second with 12 aces, second with 56 digs and fourth with 24 total blocks. 

• Poll Position
In the most recent American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Poll, UCSB moved up three spots to No. 6, its highest ranking of the season. Big West foe and defending National champion Long Beach State (10-0) remains at No. 1, while Hawai'i (5-0) held at No. 2. UC Irvine (11-2) slid up one spot to No. 3, giving the Big West four teams in the Top-6, while No. 12 CSUN (6-5) makes it five Big West programs in the Top-12. 

• 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 2.50 kills per set. All three players have garnered Big West Freshman Player of the Week nominations, while Wilcox has now won two weeks in a row after producing a career-high 14 kills in back-to-back weeks. Hicks, meanwhile, has been stellar at the net and leads the team with 33 blocks. 

• 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.