No. 3 UCSB Heads to No. 1 Hawai’i for Pivotal Pair of Matches

Photo by Jeff Liang
Photo by Jeff Liang

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The Schedule
Friday, Apr. 5, 2019 at 10:00 p.m. PDT
Saturday, Apr. 6, 2019 at 10:00 p.m. PDT
No. 3 UC Santa Barbara (17-5) at No. 1 Hawai'i (23-0)
Stan Sheriff Center - Honolulu, Hawai'i 
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Rainbow Wahine: 37-48 / Lost 4
UH Streak / Last 10 – Won 23 / 10-0
UCSB Streak / Last 10 – Won 2 / 8-2
2018 Series: UH def. UCSB, 3-0 on Apr. 6, 2018
UH def. UCSB, 3-1 on Apr. 7, 2018

The Week Ahead
The No. 3 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team heads to Hawai'i to take on the No. 1 Rainbow Warriors, who have yet to lose a set all season long. The Gauchos take on Hawai'i in a pair of matches this weekend, beginning on Friday, Apr. 5 at 10:00 p.m. PDT followed by a match on Saturday, Apr. 6 at 10:00 p.m. PDT. Both matches will be played in the Stan Sheriff Center and be available to stream through BigWest.TV. 

Last Week in Review
After a returning from a two-week break, the Gauchos managed to defeat No. 12 CSUN twice last week, although it wasn't easy. In a 3-0 sweep over the Matadors in Rob Gym last Friday, UCSB needed a 32-30 third set to finish off CSUN. On Saturday on the road, the Gauchos trailed 2-1 and rallied from behind to pull off the five-set victory. Corey Chavers (14 kills, 4 digs, 3 blocks), Ryan Wilcox (12 kills, 7 digs) and Spencer Fredrick (11 kills, 5 digs, 2 blocks) led the Gauchos in Friday's sweep while Chavers posted his first double-double of the season (10 kills, 10 digs) and Hayden Boehle racked up a season-high 18 digs in Saturday's win. 

Boehle, Wilcox Earn Big West Athlete of the Week Accolades
Hayden Boehle was named Big West Defensive Player of the Week and Ryan Wilcox was named Freshman Player of the Week after leading UCSB to a pair of wins over CSUN. It was Boehle's second honor of the year while Wilcox is now a four-time recipient of Freshman of the Week. Boehle registered a season-high 18 digs in a 3-2 win at CSUN on Saturday and recorded 11 in a 3-0 sweep over the Matadors at home on Friday. He averaged 3.63 digs per set for the week and also added five assists. Wilcox, meanwhile, set the tone on the offensive end, totaling 25 kills and 14 digs in the two wins. In Friday's home victory, Wilcox finished with 12 kills on .435 hitting (12-2-23) while adding seven digs and an ace. On Saturday, the Honolulu, Hawai'i native added 13 kills to go along with seven more digs and another ace.

Poll Position
After climbing one spot each week for the past three weeks, UCSB held steady at No. 3 in the most recent American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Poll. It is the highest ranking of the season and highest ranking since the Gauchos also reached No. 3 back in 2015. The highest ranking the Gauchos have reached in the rally-scoring era was No. 2 in the final poll of the 2011 season, after finishing as the National Runner-Ups. The top three programs, and four of the top seven, all reside in the Big West Conference. Hawai'i took over the No. 1 spot for the first time this season after No. 2 Long Beach State was swept by USC. Pepperdine and UCLA come in at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, while UC Irvine has slipped down to No. 7. Rounding out the Big West Conference teams in the poll is this week's opponent, No. 12 CSUN. 

Somewhere Over the Rainbow
UCSB is 37-48 all-time against the Rainbow Warriors and dropped both matches at home last season to Hawai'i. It has been an unbelievable season for the Rainbow Warriors, who are off to a 23-0 start and have not lost a set, winning 69 straight. Hawai'i is led by junior opposite Rado Parapunov, who has won four of the last five Big West Player of the Week awards, and leads the conference with a 4.28 kills per set average. Patrick Gasman leads the team with 90 total blocks, Gage Worsley has a team-high 178 digs and Joe Worsley leads the way with 740 assists. 

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 had a 10 consecutive match streak with double-digit kills earlier in the season and has already surpassed his kill total from last season with four matches remaining. He leads the team by far with 298 kills (3.55 k/s) and 36 service aces. Not a one-trick pony, Chavers is also among the team leaders in digs (93) and total blocks (47).

Ace in the Hole
The Gauchos are eighth in the nation with an average of 1.59 aces per set. As a team, UCSB has 135 to rank third in the Big West and are led by 36 aces from Corey Chavers. Ryan Wilcox has 21, Case McGarry has 18, Randy DeWeese has 16 and Keenan Sanders has 15 to round out Gauchos in double-figures. 

Battle Tested
Overall this season, Santa Barbara has played 16 AVCA Top-15 ranked opponents, going 11-5 against them. UCSB has the fourth toughest schedule in the nation when looking at its cumulative opposition, currently with a .624 winning percentage (362-218). Down the stretch, the Gauchos have the third toughest schedule in the nation, facing No. 1 Hawai'i and No. 8 UC Irvine in remaining conference play. 

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 (four times) 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 71 total blocks while Wilcox is second on the team with 192 kills.