No. 3 Gauchos Contain No. 12 Matadors in Five Sets

Keenan Sanders (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Keenan Sanders (Photo by Tony Mastres)

 

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – The No. 3 ranked UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team collected its fourth Big West Conference win with a five-set victory over the No. 12 CSUN Matadors on Saturday night at the Matadome.

The Gauchos (17-5, 4-2 Big West) came back from a 2-1 set deficit to win their fifth five-set affair of the season.

CSUN (10-12, 0-6 Big West) won the first set 25-22, leading by as much as seven when the scoreline was advanced to 20-13 by a Ryan DeWeese kill.

The Gauchos kept the first set interesting as they brought themselves to within two points of the Matadors, with junior setter Casey McGarry setting up freshman middle blocker Brandon Hicks to make the score 23-21 CSUN.

A Gaucho attack error would give CSUN the first set and put the home side on the front foot in their upset bid.

The second set was a tight back-and-forth battle between the two squads, with the largest lead being just four points as UCSB paced the Matadors 8-4 early.

It wasn't until the Matadors Maciej Ptaszynski committed an attack error that the set began to find its denouement, as the Gauchos took a 27-26 lead and finished off the set with a junior opposite Keenan Sanders service ace, the first of two he had on the night.

CSUN would blow past the Gauchos in the third set 25-17, but UCSB responded with a 25-15 fourth set triumph to set up the decisive fifth set for the seventh time this season.

Kills by junior setter Randy DeWeese and freshman outside hitter Ryan Wilcox set the Gauchos up with a 2-0 lead in the final set, but CSUN made it 2-2 off a Dimitar Kalchev kill and a UCSB attack error.

The Gauchos strung together six of the next nine points to lead 8-5 at the changeover.

CSUN found some momentum after swapping sides, getting three of the next four points to cut the Gaucho lead to one.

From then on, UCSB outwitted their opponents to the tune of a 6-1 run to earn the 15-9 fifth set win and dispatch the Matadors on their home court.

It was the second time this season that the team was able to rally to get the victory from a losing position in a five-set match.

Leading the way for the Gauchos in kills was Sanders with a season-high 14, followed by Wilcox and senior outside hitter Corey Chavers, with 13 and 10 respectively.

Sanders also recorded eight blocks, while Randy DeWeese had 22 assists and McGarry had 19.

Redshirt senior libero Hayden Boehle added 18 digs.

The Gauchos won the game despite being bested in several statistical categories, including points, in which CSUN held a 75 to 66.5 advantage, kills, blocks, assists, and digs.

UCSB's next game will take place three time zones away at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hawai'i as Gauchos face the top-ranked Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors. Their two-game series takes place on Apr. 5 and 6, with first serve taking place at 10 p.m. Pacific Time for each game.