No. 5 UCSB Sinks the Tritons, 3-0

Ryan Wilcox (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Ryan Wilcox (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – After a two-week layoff, the No. 5 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team picked up where it left off, winning its 11th match in a row with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-13, 25-21) sweep over UC San Diego on Friday night in Rob Gym.

UCSB (14-3) improves to 2-0 in Big West play, with both wins over the Tritons (6-11), and will play one last non-conference match next week before the crucial stretch against nationally ranked conference opponents, No. 1 Long Beach State, No. 2 Hawai'i, No. 3 UC Irvine and No. 11 CSUN.

Taking it one match at a time, the Gauchos made quick work of UCSD on Friday, outhitting the Tritons .400 (37-11-65) to .162 (23-12-68) with strong service to the tune of 11 aces. UCSB also out-dug UCSD 25-16 and out-blocked their opponent 10-7.

Ryan Wilcox led all players with 10 kills on the night, hitting an incredible .500 (10-2-16) percentage while Spencer Fredrick finished with nine kills while hitting .312 (9-4-16). Corey Chavers saw his streak of 10 straight matches with double-digit kills come to an end, finishing with six kills. Keenan Sanders was also a key offensive factor with seven kills. Casey McGarry dished out 31 assists to go along with 10 digs for the double-double and also led the team with three aces. Seven different players finished with an ace in the match, including two apiece from Wilcox and Sanders.

The Gauchos showed no signs of rust on the offensive end in the first set, hitting .579 (14-3-19) to cruise to a 25-17 opening game win. Wilcox and Fredrick were a force early on, creating separation on the scoreboard early on with a 4-0 run behind two kills apiece. With a 10-5 lead, UCSB never looked back and led the rest of the set.

UCSB somehow managed to be even more efficient in the second, hitting at a .667 clip with 11 kills on 15 attempts and just one error. That, coupled with the fact that UCSD had its worst set of the night with a .105 (7-5-19) showing, led to an easy 25-13 set to take a 2-0 lead.

The Tritons hung around in the third set as UCSB hit just .161 with seven errors, but Wilcox and Sanders played strong down the stretch while Brandon Hopper, who finished with two kills and an ace, added another dynamic to the Gauchos attack to finish off the set, and with it the match.

UCSB plays its final non-conference match next Friday, Mar. 8 against Lindenwood in Rob Gym at 7:00 p.m.