Gauchos Return Home for Matches with No. 9 Lewis, No. 5 Loyola-Chicago

Gauchos Return Home for Matches with No. 9 Lewis, No. 5 Loyola-Chicago

The Schedule
Friday, Jan. 25, 2018 at 7:00 PM
No. 9 Lewis at No. 10 UCSB
Rob Gym – Santa Barbara, Calif.
Video: BigWest.TV
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Flyers – 5-5 / Lost 3
UCSB Streak / Last 5 – Won 2 / 2-3
Lewis Streak / Last 5 – Lost 1 / 4-1
Last Meeting: Jan. 27, 2018 – Lewis def. UCSB, 3-1

Saturday, Jan. 26, 2018 at 7:00 PM
No. 5 Loyola-Chicago at No. 10 UCSB
Rob Gym – Santa Barbara, Calif.
Video: BigWest.TV
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Ramblers – 2-1 / Lost 1
UCSB Streak / Last 5 – Won 2 / 2-3
Loyola Streak / Last 5 – Won 5 / 5-0
Last Meeting: Jan. 25, 2018 – Loyola def. UCSB, 3-1

The Week in Review
The No. 10 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team won back-to-back matches, including their first road win of the year, after topping No. 14 Ball State 3-2 (22-25, 25-18, 25-15, 15-13) and No. 13 Purdue Fort Wayne 3-1 (22-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-22) in Indiana over the weekend. After falling 3-0 to UCLA earlier in the week, the Gauchos bounced back behind strong play from Corey Chavers and an efficient offense to improve to 5-3 this season.  

The Week Ahead
The Gauchos look to continue their recent winning streak as they return home to Rob Gym this weekend for a pair of matches, beginning this Friday, Jan. 25 against No. 9 Lewis followed by a Saturday, Jan. 26 match at 7:00 p.m. against No. 5 Loyola-Chicago.

Lewis Preview
UCSB is 5-5 all-time against Lewis and have lost three straight meetings, including a 3-1 defeat in Illinois last season. Keenan Sanders had a career-high 24 kills in that match and Casey McGarry added 41 assists, nine digs and four blocks. This season, the Flyers are 5-2 and recently had a four match winning streak snapped by Pepperdine in a 3-1 loss. They are led by junior outside hitter Ryan Coenen (66 kills, 3.47 k/s) and sophomore middle blocker Tyler Mitchem (65 kills, 2.71 k/s, 28 blocks) while setter Matt Yoshimoto paces the team with 193 assists (10.16 a/s).

Ramblers Matchup
The Gauchos are 2-1 all-time against Loyola-Chicago, losing for the first time last season after taking the first two meetings. In a 3-1 loss in Chicago in 2018, Corey Chavers led UCSB with 18 kills while Keenan Sanders and Brandon Hopper had nine kills apiece. Randy DeWeese also had a big game with 39 assists and 11 digs. This season, the Ramblers have won five straight after a season-opening five-set loss to UC Irvine. They are led by senior outside hitters Collin Mahan (67 kills, 3.19 k/s) and Will Tischler (61 kills, 3.21 k/s) on the attacking front while Garrett Zolg (235 assists, 10.68 a/s) handles the setting duties. Defensively, Avery Aylsworth leads the team with 46 digs and Paul Narup has 28 total blocks.

Gaucho Leaders
Senior outside hitter Corey Chavers has paced the UCSB offense with 102 kills (3.29 k/s) while freshmen Haotian Xia (48 kills), Ryan Wilcox (46 kills) and junior Keenan Sanders (42 kills) have been the main contributors thus far. Casey McGarry (189 assists) and Randy DeWeese (124 assists) have split the setting duties and Chavers leads the way on service with 15 aces. Senior libero Hayden Boehle leads the team with 78 digs and Sanders leads the team with 25 blocks.

Tough Schedule
From here on out, UCSB has the toughest schedule in the nation with its future opposition boasting a combined win percentage of .717 (76-30). Four of the Big West programs rank in the Top-10, and when including matches already played, Santa Barbara ranks third with its cumulative opposition win percentage at .678 (101-48).

Poll Position
After a 2-1 week on the road, UCSB jumped two spots to No. 10 in the most recent American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Poll. Big West foe and defending National Champion Long Beach State (6-0) remains at No. 1, while fellow Big West programs Hawai'i (3-0) and UC Irvine (6-1) come in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. At No. 11, CSUN (5-2) gives the Big West five schools in the Top-11.

Freshmen Phenoms
Three freshmen, Haotian XiaRyan Wilcox, and Brandon Hicks have proven themselves early on and made immediate impacts for an already deep and talented UCSB team. Xia and Wilcox are second and third on the team with 48 kills and 46 kills, respectively, and Wilcox is fourth with 28 digs. In a five-set win at Ball State, Xia tallied a career-high 18 kills on a .382 hitting percentage. Hicks, meanwhile, has racked up 18 total blocks in just five matches and leads the team with 1.13 blocks per set.

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.