Gauchos Sweep UC San Diego in Big West Opener

Corey Chavers notched his 10th straight match with double-digit kills while leading No. 6 UCSB past UC San Diego for its 10th straight win on Friday night. (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Corey Chavers notched his 10th straight match with double-digit kills while leading No. 6 UCSB past UC San Diego for its 10th straight win on Friday night. (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The No. 6 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team won its 10th straight match on Friday night after sweeping UC San Diego, 3-0 (25-21, 25-9, 25-18) in the Big West Conference opener at RIMAC Arena.

For the Gauchos (13-3) it is their fifth sweep in their last six matches, with the other a 3-2 thrilling win over No. 4 UCLA on Wednesday night in Rob Gym.

Corey Chavers also extended his double-digit kill streak to 10 in-a-row with a match-high 12 kills while freshman Ryan Wilcox was a force with nine kills on 19 attempts for a .316 hitting percentage.

As a team, UCSB hit .274 (36-13-84) while the Tritons hit just .176 (31-16-85) and the Gauchos held advantages in service aces (6-2) and blocks (16-13).

Keenan Sanders had a strong night at the net, leading all players with five total blocks to go along with seven kills. Spencer Fredrick added five kills and three blocks while defensive stalwart Hayden Boehle provided a team-high eight digs. Casey McGarry distributed the ball with efficiency on Friday to the tune of 33 assists while picking up a pair of aces.

In the first set, a Ryan Wilcox ace followed by kills from Fredrick and Sanders highlighted a 4-0 run that gave the Gauchos a four-point advantage at 12-8. Chavers got into the mix with a kill and a McGarry ace helped Santa Barbara pull away in the middle of the set. The Tritons mounted one last rally to tie the score at 20-20, but the Gauchos scored five of the next six points to take a 1-0 lead.

The second set followed a similar scoring pattern as the first, as the two teams traded blows early until UCSB grabbed a hold with a run midway through. Chavers proved to be too much down the stretch with a pair of kills and an ace, and the Gauchos took the second 25-19 to take a 2-0 lead.

UCSB was dominant in the third with 17 kills on a match-high .452 hitting percentage (17-3-31). Santa Barbara jumped out to an early lead behind back-to-back kills from Sanders. Chavers had six kills in the set while Wilcox added five and the Gauchos cruised to the sweep with a 25-18 game three.

Santa Barbara takes a break in action until Mar. 1, when UC San Diego comes to Rob Gym for a 7:00 p.m. tilt.