No. 3 Gauchos Hold On In Frantic Third Set to Sweep No. 12 CSUN

Ryan Wilcox (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Ryan Wilcox (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The No. 3 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team got back to its winning ways on Friday night, outlasting No. 12 CSUN in a long third set to clinch their third 3-0 sweep of Big West play. Set scores were 25-20, 25-22, 32-30.

With their 13th win in 15 tries, the Gauchos improve to 16-5 overall and 3-2 in the conference. The Matadors meanwhile dropped their third straight to fall to 10-11 overall, 0-5 Big West.

While Santa Barbara never truly dominated for any extended period of time, the home side was in control for most of the night. The Gauchos never led by more than five points in any set, but never trailed by more than two.

Whenever it seemed like the Matadors might start a run, UCSB's hitters would find an answer. Freshman Ryan Wilcox was extremely efficient, going for 12 kills and seven digs on a .435 hitting percentage. Senior Corey Chavers led all players with 14 kills to go along with two aces and three blocks.

Right behind them was junior opposite Spencer Fredrick, who had the third-most kills of any player with 11. His powerful ace on the final serve of the game finished the third set 32-30 in favor of the Gauchos, ending the second-longest set UCSB has played in this season.

UCSB may not have gotten out in three sets if not for some sloppy serving from the visitors. The Matadors ended the night with 20 service errors, three more than they've had in any three-set match this year. Nine of those errors came in the decisive third game, the last of which tied the set at 27-27.

In the opening set, things went back-and-forth until UCSB broke a 9-9 tie with three unanswered points, taking the lead for good. A trio of Gauchos would chip in on a block to make it 17-13, and a Brandon Hicks kill would give them their largest lead to that point at 18-13.

Both teams combined for 13 service errors in set one. The Matadors' seventh of the opening set would end it 25-20 in favor of UCSB. The Gauchos owned a .258 to .103 edge in hitting percentage, the most lopsided of any set on the night.

Set two would see the Matadors go on a run midway through to take their first lead at 12-11. Things remained close until a Matador attacking error gave UCSB its largest lead of the set, 22-19. CSUN would have a chance to tie things later on, but another attacking error put the Gauchos up 24-22. Chavers would clinch game two with a classy kill, lobbing a perfect shot over CSUN's blockers which dropped before anyone could reach it.

Santa Barbara owned a .255-to-.227 advantage in hitting percentage overall, also winning the assist battle 40-to-31, digs 35-to-32, and aces 6-to-3. The Matadors finished with eight blocks to UCSB's four.

Junior setter Casey McGarry tallied 37 assists (12.3 A/S), the most he's had in a three-set match this season. Redshirt senior libero Hayden Boehle paced all players with 11 digs.

The Gauchos will be back in action tomorrow night in a rematch at CSUN at 7:00 p.m. as they look for their second straight win over the Matadors.