Wilcox Named Freshman of the Year; Four Gauchos Earn All-Big West Honors

From L-R: Hayden Boehle, Corey Chavers, Ryan Wilcox and Brandon Hicks were honored by the Big West Conference on Monday.
From L-R: Hayden Boehle, Corey Chavers, Ryan Wilcox and Brandon Hicks were honored by the Big West Conference on Monday.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Ryan Wilcox capped off an impressive debut campaign with Big West Freshman of the Year honors, highlighting a quartet of Gauchos recognized among the All-Big West Teams that were announced on Monday afternoon.

Senior outside hitter Corey Chavers landed on the First Team along with fellow senior libero Hayden Boehle while Wilcox also earned Honorable Mention accolades. Both Wilcox and freshman middle blocker Brandon Hicks were named to the All-Freshman Team.  

Wilcox hauled in a trio of postseason awards from the Big West after bursting onto the scene for the Gauchos. The Honolulu, Hawai'i native ranked second on UCSB and led all freshmen in the conference with 232 kills and a 2.55 kills per set average. Wilcox tallied a .252 hitting percentage for the year and also led all freshmen with 23 aces while ranking second with 109 digs. In conference play, the 6-foot-2 outside hitter only got better as he averaged 3.00 kills per set and reached double-figure kill totals in seven of UCSB's 10 conference matches. Wilcox put together a season-high of 14 kills in wins against Loyola (Ill.) and BYU and was named Big West Freshman Player of the Week a conference-high four times.

Chavers earned First Team honors for the second consecutive season after he led the Gauchos and the Big West with 343 kills and was an all-around force all year for No. 3 UCSB. During the Gauchos' record breaking 12-match win streak, the Downey, Calif. native rattled off a streak of his own with 10 consecutive double-digit kill matches. For the year, Chavers reached double figure kills in 19 of UCSB's 26 matches and had a season-best of 22 come on senior night against UC Irvine. With 830 total attacks, over 100 more than the next closest player in the conference, Chavers hit a solid .269 clip while averaging 3.50 kills per set. He also led UCSB and ranked fifth in the league with 38 service aces, tallied 108 digs and 57 total blocks. In addition to his three Big West Player of the Week awards during the season, Chavers was also recognized as the AVCA National Player of the Week once and Off the Block's Outside Attacker of the Week, twice.

After redshirting last season, Boehle was a welcome addition back to the team at libero, earning his first All-Big West honors after he earned All-MSPF honors as a freshman in 2015. The Westchester, Calif. native earned two Big West Defensive Player of the Week awards during the season and tied for the conference lead with 245 digs, which also ranked fifth in the nation. His average of 2.47 digs per set placed him second in the Big West and sixth in the nation, and he finished his career eighth all-time in program history with 672 career digs. Boehle was a consistent force on the defensive end, reaching double-figure digs in 15 matches and had a season-high of 18 digs in a five-set win at CSUN.

Hicks rounds out the UCSB honorees with his All-Freshman Team selection after solidifying himself as one of the best middle blockers in the conference. The 6-foot-4, Newport Beach, Calif. native led all freshmen in the Big West by a wide margin with 71 total blocks while his 1.03 blocks per set average ranked third in the conference overall. He produced a season-high eight blocks in a thrilling five-set match at then No. 1 Long Beach State was named Big West Freshman Player of the Week on Feb. 11 after totaling 10 blocks in a pair of wins at the AVCA Showcase. He also added 86 kills, 20 digs and nine aces.  

No. 4 seed UCSB (17-9) will take on No. 5 seed CSUN (13-13) in the Big West Tournament First Round this Thursday, Apr. 18 at 10:30 p.m. PT / 7:30 p.m. HT in the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. The winner will play No. 1 seed Long Beach State in the semifinal on Friday.