No. 6 UCSB Upends No. 4 UCLA in Five-Set Thriller

No. 6 UCSB Upends No. 4 UCLA in Five-Set Thriller

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – In front of a rowdy Rob Gym crowd, the No. 6 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team upset No. 4 UCLA in a five-set thriller, 3-2 (25-18, 21-25, 25-20, 19-25, 15-12), for its ninth straight win on Wednesday night.

Corey Chavers was masterful yet again, leading the way with a match-high 20 kills on a .472 hitting percentage, and now has double-figure kills in nine consecutive matches.

The Gauchos (12-3) outhit the Bruins .353 (47-11-102) to .252 (49-21-111) in the match, capitalizing on 21 attacking errors from UCLA, while limiting their own mistakes, especially in the decisive fifth set.

After falling to UCLA back on Jan. 16 at Pauley Pavilion, UCSB has won nine in-a-row, the longest streak under McLaughlin, and started the opening set red hot.

The Gauchos hit .524 (13-2-21) in the opening frame while converting 15-of-18 sideout opportunities. UCSB got off to an 8-3 start behind strong play from reigning Big West Freshman Player of the Week Brandon Hicks and junior middle blocker Keenan Sanders. Both Sanders and Hicks, along with Chavers and Ryan Wilcox all finished with three kills apiece in the opening set as UCSB led the entire way to a 25-18 win.

UCLA (10-3) bounced back with a 25-21 second game win, despite four kills apiece from Wilcox and Chavers, to tie the match at 1-1.

Chavers was dominant in the third, converting six kills on seven swings, and led the Gauchos out to an early lead. Once again, UCSB limited its mistakes with only two errors to the Bruins' six and after pulling ahead 20-13, held on for the 25-20 set win.

UCLA put its best game together when it mattered most, hitting .440 (13-2-25) in the fourth to force a fifth and final set.

In the fifth, the Gauchos fell behind a crucial two points, 7-5, but three straight UCLA errors put UCSB on top 8-7. Santa Barbara was able to maintain its slight lead into the waning moments, capitalizing on a big Wilcox kill to take a two-point advantage of its own, 13-11, and held on for the match win.

Wilcox finished with 10 kills to join Chavers in double-figures, and also added seven digs. Sanders finished with eight kills on a .538 hitting percentage while Hicks and Spencer Fredrick tallied four kills apiece. Casey McGarry set his way to 33 assists and Hayden Boehle added nine digs. Fredrick led all players with six blocks to go with nine digs of his own while Hicks had five blocks. Chavers also added six digs and a match-high three aces.

UCSB will look to keep it rolling as it begins Big West Conference action this Friday, Feb. 15 at UC San Diego at 7:00 p.m. The match will be streamed on ESPN3.