No. 10 UCSB Rallies for Five-Set Victory over Harvard in Season Opener

Jack Truman (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Jack Truman (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – On the opening day of the 2019 UCSB Asics Invitational, and the opening day of the regular season, the No. 10 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team grinded out a five-set comeback to defeat Harvard 3-2 (25-19, 22-25, 21-25, 25-14, 15-7) on Thursday afternoon in Rob Gym.

Corey Chavers paced an efficient Santa Barbara offense with 19 kills on 44 attempts (.409) while Jack Truman also reached double-figure kills with 10 on just 13 attempts (.615).

As a team, the Gauchos hit .371 (61-18-116) while holding Harvard to just .132 (40-25-114).

Behind stellar play from Spencer Fredrick, who had three of his six kills in the first set, UCSB took control early. A 7-1 run put the Gauchos ahead 8-3 early, and they continued to hold a steady lead, taking a 21-14 advantage after five straight points highlighted by a pair of kills from Truman.

Casey McGarry, who finished with a game-high 49 assists, set up Roy McFarland for the final kill to put the first set away 25-19.

Just as the Gauchos were eyeing a 2-0 lead with a 15-12 advantage midway through the second set, Harvard went on an 8-2 run to snag a three point lead of its own.  Sanders and Chavers helped bring UCSB back to even the score at 20-20, but the Crimson took five of the last seven points to steal the set 25-22.

Another run midway through the third set saw Harvard take a 2-1 overall lead and put the Gauchos on the ropes.

Santa Barbara responded in a big way with the first four points of the fourth set, and cruised to a 25-14 game win, behind a .480 hitting percentage (14-2-25). Key contributors off the bench in Ryan Wilcox, Matt Ujkic and Brandon Hicks helped to turn the tide as the pressure mounted down the stretch.

The Gauchos continued to get better heading into the fifth set, hitting .625 with no attacking errors and put Harvard away 15-7 to complete the comeback.

Wilcox chipped in eight kills and McFarland tallied five. Hayden Boehle led all players with 13 digs and Fredrick notched five of the Gauchos' 18 total blocks.

In other Asics Invitational action, No. 11 CSUN topped No. 12 Concordia-Irvine 3-1 and No. 1 Long Beach State swept No. 14 Grand Canyon 3-0.

UCSB (1-0) continues tournament play tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. against Grand Canyon. The action will begin at 3:00 p.m. in Rob Gym as Long Beach takes on Concordia-Irvine while CSUN vs. Harvard rounds out the day at 8:00 p.m.

Tickets for the tournament are still available and can be purchased here.