No. 10 UCSB Prepared for Pair of Matches against Pepperdine

Spencer Fredrick (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Spencer Fredrick (Photo by Tony Mastres)

Week 1 Game Notes

• The Schedule
Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at 7:00 PM
No. 10 UCSB vs. No. 5 Pepperdine
Robertson Gym - Santa Barbara, Calif.
Video: BigWest.TV
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Waves – 39-69 / Lost 1
Pepperdine Streak – Won 2 / 2-0
UCSB Streak – Won 3 / 3-0
Last Meeting: Pepperdine def. UCSB, 3-2 (Feb. 21, 2018)

Friday, Jan. 11, 2018 at 7:00 PM
No. 10 UCSB at No. 5 Pepperdine
Firestone Fieldhouse - Malibu, Calif.
Video: Wavecasts

• The Week in Review
The No. 10 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team started the season strong with a perfect 3-0 record at its own 2019 UCSB Asics Invitational. After falling behind 2-1 in the season-opener against Harvard, the Gauchos rallied for a five-set victory and finished off the weekend with sweeps over No. 14 Grand Canyon and No. 12 Concordia-Irvine. Corey Chavers, who led the team with 42 kills while hitting .414, and Hayden Boehle (30 digs) were named to the All-Tournament Team. 

• The Week Ahead
The Gauchos will put their 3-0 record to start the season on the line when it takes on No. 5 Pepperdine in a home-and-home slate scheduled for this week. UCSB hosts the Waves on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. inside Rob Gym and will travel to Malibu to wrap up the season series on Friday. Both matches will have live stats and be available to view via live stream. 

• Pepperdine Preview
No. 5 Pepperdine opened the season 2-0 with wins against Princeton and UC San Diego. The Waves are 69-39 all-time against UC Santa Barbara and topped the Gauchos in their latest meeting, a match that went five sets in Rob Gym last season. In the past five years, however, UCSB holds a 5-4 edge over Pepperdine with four of those wins coming on the road. Through two matches, the Waves are led by senior outside hitters Michael Wexter (24 kills, 16 digs), David Wieczorek (23 kills) and Kaleb Denmark (20 kills). Freshman setter Brendin Chandler has tallied 63 assists and middle blocker Kevin Vaz leads the team with eight total blocks. 

• Boehle Brings in Big West Defensive Player of the Week Honors
After missing the 2018 season, Boehle was a welcome addition back to the lineup as the Westchester, Calif. native racked up 30 digs for an average of 2.73 digs per set, which ranks second in the nation, during the season-opening Asics Invitational. Boehle recorded a game and season-high 13 digs in a thrilling five-set comeback victory against Harvard in the season-opener and added seven and 10 digs, respectively, in sweeps over Grand Canyon and Concordia-Irvine. 

• Poll Position
In the most recent American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Poll, UCSB held steady at No. 10 after going 3-0 at the UCSB Asics Invitational. Defending champion Long Beach State remains No. 1 after also going 3-0 at the Asics Invite. UC Irvine (No. 3), Hawai'i (No. 4) and CSUN (No. 12) give the Big West five programs in the Top-12 nationally. 

• Block Party
With an average of 2.68 blocks per set, the Gauchos lead the Big West and rank second in the nation in the category. 6-foot-11 redshirt sophomore Jack Truman has been a force at the net, with a team-high 10 total blocks and three solo blocks. Junior opposite Keenan Sanders has eight total blocks while redshirt sophomore middle blocker Brandon Hopper racked up seven total blocks in just one match. 

• In Depth
UCSB returned all of its players from last season while adding nine talented freshmen to the mix, giving the Gauchos a dangerous amount of depth. In just three matches, that depth has been on full display as UCSB started a different lineup in each match. Freshman Haotian Xia earned a Big West Freshman of the Week nomination after recording 14 kills in his only appearance, a 3-0 sweep over GCU. Freshmen Ryan Wilcox (14 kills, 11 digs) and Brandon Hicks (3 kills, 1 block) also made immediate impacts in their time on the court. 

• Big West Preseason Coaches Poll
The Gauchos were picked to finish fourth in the Big West Conference, according to the annual preseason coaches poll. With 36 points, including all six first-place votes, reigning Big West and NCAA champion Long Beach State was a unanimous choice for the No. 1 slot in the poll. Hawai'i came in second with 28 while UC Irvine was a close third at 26. UCSB came in at No. 4 with 16 votes followed by CSUN with 11 and UC San Diego with nine.

• North American Challenge...  Accepted
UCSB started its season off strong by sweeping the competition at the North American Challenge, hosted by Long Beach State, during the final weekend of 2018. The Gauchos won all four exhibition matches in which they competed, defeating Canadian universities Alberta and McMaster two times apiece. "This was great experience for our team to compete against a few of the top Canadian universities," said UCSB head coach Rick McLaughlin. "This will serve as a valuable tune-up for the UCSB Asics Invitational this week."