UCSB Sweeps No. 3 BYU for Second Straight Night

Ryan Wilcox tied his career-high with 14 kills, including seven in the first set, to lead UCSB past No. 3 BYU on Saturday night. (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Ryan Wilcox tied his career-high with 14 kills, including seven in the first set, to lead UCSB past No. 3 BYU on Saturday night. (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – For the second time in as many nights, the No. 9 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team swept past No. 3 BYU in a dominant 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 27-25) fashion in Rob Gym.

UCSB improves to 9-3 with the win and have now won six consecutive matches, all coming against American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top-15 ranked opponents.

"This was a very fun match," said head coach Rick McLaughlin. "Our guys are competing well and we are a different team than we were a month ago due to their hard work. We look forward to playing two good teams next week."

Freshman Ryan Wilcox tied his career-high with 14 kills on an incredibly efficient .667 hitting percentage (14-0-21) while Corey Chavers continued his high-level play with a match-high 16 kills (.312%).

Wilcox tallied seven of his kills in the first set alone, as the Gauchos hit .500 (14-3-22) compared to just .048 (4-3-21) from the Cougars. With an 11-9 lead, UCSB ran away with the set for good after an 8-1 run, fueled by both Wilcox and Chavers, put the Gauchos ahead 19-10. UCSB would finish off the set 25-15 and continued its strong play in the second frame.

With the score tied at 5-5 early in the second, Wilcox sent down back-to-back kills to spark a 5-1 run for a 10-6 UCSB lead. Keenan Sanders was big in the set with multiple kills of his own, and Chavers notched six of his kills in the set along with back-to-back service aces to help the Gauchos pull away. Spencer Fredrick added an ace of his own to finish off the set, 25-16, and give UCSB a 2-0 lead.

The Cougars upped their game in the third set, hoping to avoid the sweep, and found themselves up 20-15 after a late 4-0 run. A few plays later down 21-16, Chavers tallied two kills, sandwiched by a Randy DeWeese ace, to bring Santa Barbara within two, 21-19. After a BYU kill, the Gauchos looked to none other than Chavers, who slammed down another kill and followed it up with a crucial ace to make it a 22-21 game. UCSB managed to survive three game points from the Cougars before a Fredrick ace swung the match in favor of the Gauchos with a 25-24 lead. From there, after BYU tied it 25-25, Chavers ended the match with back-to-back kills to send the crowd into a frenzy.

On the night, UCSB hit .443 with 44 kills and just nine errors while BYU hit just .253 with nine errors and 28 kills. The Gauchos had another strong night from serve with 11 aces and out-dug the Cougars 33-24.

DeWeese finished with a double-double of 34 assists and 11 digs and Fredrick led the team with two blocks and three aces to go along with six digs. Brandon Hicks totaled six kills (.857%) and Wilcox added seven digs.

UCSB will leave the friendly confines of Rob Gym and travel to Long Beach for a pair of neutral site matches, beginning against No. 14 Ohio State (3-4) on Friday, Feb. 8 at 6:00 p.m. and against RV Penn State (4-4) on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 6:00 p.m.