No. 5 Gauchos Host UC San Diego after Two Week Break

Spencer Fredrick (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Spencer Fredrick (Photo by Tony Mastres)

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• The Schedule
Friday, Mar. 1, 2018 at 7:00 PM
No. 5 UC Santa Barbara (13-3) vs. UC San Diego (6-10)
Rob Gym - Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Tritons – 41-8 / Won 12
UCSD Streak / Last 10 – Lost 1 / 4-6
UCSB Streak / Last 10 – Won 10 / 10-0
Last Meeting: Feb. 15, 2019 - UCSB def. UCSD, 3-0

• The Week Ahead
After a two week break, the No. 5 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team returns to the court this Friday, Mar. 1 to continue Big West play against UC San Diego at 7:00 p.m. inside Rob Gym. Friday's match is available to stream on BigWest.TV with live stats available on UCSBgauchos.com

• Big West Begins
The last time out, UCSB swept UC San Diego back on Feb. 15 at RIMAC Arena in the Big West Conference opener. The Gauchos have now won 12 straight against the Tritons and are 41-8 against UCSD all-time. In the 3-0 sweep two weeks ago, the Gauchos outhit the Tritons .274 (36-13-84) to .176 (31-16-85) and were led by 12 kills from Corey Chavers. Big West play will begin to pick up down the stretch as UCSB has just one more non-conference match before its highly-anticipated conference stretch against AVCA ranked opponents in No. 1 Long Beach State, No. 2 Hawai'i, No. 3 UC Irvine and No. 11 CSUN. 

• Gauchos Win Five-Set Thriller Over UCLA
UCSB snapped a six-match losing streak to the Bruins on Feb. 13 with a thrilling 3-2 (25-18, 21-25, 25-20, 19-25, 15-12) victory over then-No. 4 UCLA inside a packed Rob Gym. Corey Chavers was masterful yet again, leading the way with a match-high 20 kills on a .472 hitting percentage.The Gauchos 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. Ryan Wilcox also netted double-figure kills with 10. 

• Tale of the Tritons
While most of the Big West took last week off, UC San Diego played a pair of matches, defeating UC Santa Cruz 3-0 while falling to No. 8 Stanford 3-0. The Tritons are 4-6 in their past 10 matches, have lost four of their past five, and are 0-9 against ranked opponents in 2019. UCSD is led by Wyatt Harrison (191 kills) and Collin Shannon (123 kills), while Connor Walbrecht (313 assists) and Blake Crisp (219 assists) share the setting duties. Ryan Lew leads the team with 136 digs. 

• Chavers Named Big West Player of the Week
Senior outside hitter Corey Chavers continued his unbelievable stretch of play, leading the Gauchos to wins over No. 4 UCLA and UCSD to earn his third Big West Player of the Week honor in the past four weeks. The Downey, Calif. native was dominant in a thrilling 3-2 upset over No. 4 UCLA on Wednesday night, piling up 20 kills on an incredibly efficient .472 hitting percentage (20-3-36). Chavers also added six digs, a block and three service aces in the win over the Bruins. In Friday's Big West Conference opener at UC San Diego, Chavers propelled the Gauchos to their 10th consecutive victory with a 3-0 sweep behind 12 kills, five digs and two aces. He hit .379 (32-7-66) over the two matches and averaged 4.00 kills, 1.38 digs and 0.63 aces per set. 

• Chavers Leading the Charge
Senior outside hitter Corey Chavers is having a phenomenal season by all acounts, already a three-time Big West Player of the Week, AVCA National Player of the Week and Off the Block's National Outside Attacker of the Week, twice. Chavers has 10 consecutive double-digit kill matches, coinciding with UCSB's 10-match win streak, and he leads the team by far with 230 kills (3.83 kills per set) and 31 service aces. Not a one-trick pony, Chavers is also among the team leaders in digs (62) and total blocks (30). 

• What a Streak
UCSB has now won 10 straight matches, with seven of those 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. UCSB then won four straight at home, followed by a pair of wins in its first neutral site matches of the year against Ohio State and Penn State in Long Beach, before returning home to upset No. 4 UCLA. It is the longest winning streak for the Gauchos in the Rick McLaughlin era.

• Battle Tested
Overall this season, Santa Barbara has played 12 AVCA Top-15 ranked opponents, going 9-3 against them. UCSB has the toughest schedule in the nation when looking at its cumulative opposition, currently with a .659 winning percentage (232-120). Down the stretch, the Gauchos face the third toughest schedule with its remaining opponents boasting a .748 win percentage (101-34). 

• Poll Position
In the most recent American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Poll, UCSB climbed one spot into the No. 5 position after its win over then-No. 4 UCLA. UCLA dropped to No. 6, while Pepperdine slid into the No. 4 slot. There was no change at the top with Long Beach State holding strong at No. 1, Hawai'i at No. 2, UCI at No. 3. With CSUN ranked No. 11, the Big West has five programs in the Top-11. 

• 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. Both Wilcox (twice) and Brandon Hicks have won Big West Freshman of the Week honors while Xia has been nominated several times and had a career-high of 18 kills at No. 14 Ball State on Jan. 18. Hicks leads the team with 50 total blocks while Wilcox is second on the team with 122 kills.  

• 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.