No. 3 Gauchos Wrap Up Regular Season with No. 9 UC Irvine

Casey McGarry (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Casey McGarry (Photo by Jeff Liang)

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The Schedule
Friday, Apr. 12, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. in Irvine, Calif.
Saturday, Apr. 13, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. in Santa Barbara, Calif.
No. 3 UC Santa Barbara (17-7) vs. No. 9 UC Irvine (15-10)
All-time Record Streak vs. the Anteaters: 47-31 / Lost 1
UCI Streak / Last 10 – Won 1 / 2-8
UCSB Streak / Last 10 – Lost 2 / 6-4
2018 Series: UCSB def. UCI, 3-2 @ UCSB on Apr. 12, 2018
UCI def. UCSB, 3-0 @ UCI on Apr. 14, 2018

The Week Ahead
The No. 3 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team rounds out the regular season with a pair against No. 9 UC Irvine, beginning this Friday, Apr. 12 at 7:00 p.m. in the Bren Events Center. The regular season finale will come the following day, Saturday, Apr. 13 at 7:00 p.m. in Rob Gym when the Gauchos host the Anteaters for their Senior Night. Both matches will be available to stream through BigWest.TV with live stats available on each school's respective athletics website. 

Last Week in Review
No. 3 UCSB became the first team in 2019 to take a set from No. 1 Hawai'i (25-0), snapping an NCAA record 74-set win streak from the Rainbow Warriors in a 3-1 (25-16, 25-21, 23-25, 25-19) loss in front of a sold-out Stan Sheriff Center crowd of 10,300. Honolulu native Ryan Wilcox led UCSB with 13 kills in the match. On Friday night, UCSB fell 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 25-16) to Hawai'i, and nearly took the second set, leading as late as 20-19 before a late run from the Rainbow Warriors. 

Final Big West Showdown
UCSB is 47-31 in the all-time series against UC Irvine and the two teams split last season's series, with each team winning on its home court. The Gauchos won a thrilling five-set match behind 16 kills from Roy McFarland, 10 kills and seven digs from Keenan Sanders and a 34-assist, 12-dig double-double from Casey McGarry. UCI is coming off a split with CSUN after both matches went five sets, and are just 2-8 in their last 10 after facing both Hawai'i and Long Beach State early in conference play. Two-time All-American and 7-foot middle blocker Scott Stadick leads the team and conference with 108 total blocks while outside hitter Joel Schneidmiller leads the team with 266 kills for an average of 3.64 kills per set. 

Thank You Seniors!
This Saturday's regular season finale between No. 3 UCSB and No. 9 UC Irvine will mark the final home game for Gaucho seniors Hayden Boehle, Corey Chavers, Connor Drake and Matt Ujkic. Both Boehle and Drake are five year members of the UCSB volleyball program, Chavers is a four-year letterwinner and Ujkic was a two-year transfer. Boehle's 652 career digs rank eighth all-time in UCSB program history while Chavers' 92 service aces are good for fourth best all-time. 

Irons, Devany Named to AVCA Thirty Under 30
UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball Associate Head Coaches Cullen Irons and Vincent Devany were named American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Thirty Under 30 recipients, it was announced on Wednesday afternoon. The award recognizes the top 30 up-and-coming coaches at all levels of the sport, and nominees had to be younger than 30 years old in 2018. Irons and Devany were the lone recipients from the NCAA Division I-II Men level.

Poll Position
UCSB held steady at No. 3 in the most recent American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Poll after becoming the first team all season to take a set from No. 1 Hawai'i. The No. 3 slot is the highest UCSB has reached this season and the 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 five of the top 11, all reside in the Big West Conference. Hawai'i maintained the No. 1 spot while Long Beach State remained at No. 2. Pepperdine and USC come in at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, while UC Irvine has slipped down to No. 9. Rounding out the Big West Conference teams in the poll is No. 11 CSUN.

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. He leads the team by far with 313 kills (3.44 k/s) and 36 service aces. Not a one-trick pony, Chavers is also among the team leaders in digs (97) and total blocks (55).

Ace in the Hole
The Gauchos are 11th in the nation with an average of 1.53 aces per set. As a team, UCSB has 141 to rank third in the Big West and are led by 36 aces from Corey Chavers. Ryan Wilcox has 22, Casey McGarry and Randy DeWeese each have 18, Keenan Sanders has 16 and Spencer Fredrick has 11 to round out Gauchos in double-figures. 

Battle Tested
Overall this season, Santa Barbara has played 18 AVCA Top-15 ranked opponents, going 11-7 against them. UCSB has the fifth toughest schedule in the nation when looking at its cumulative opposition, currently with a .615 winning percentage (385-241).

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 214 kills.