Three games into the season, the UCSB men’s volleyball team rolls onward into its first road match of the year.
The Gauchos have so far shown plenty to be excited about following their 3-0 thrashing at home versus the No. 8 Stanford during the Asics Invitational. Now, the 2-1 Gauchos will head on the road to Pepperdine University for their fourth match of the non-conference stretch.
The Pepperdine Men’s Volleyball program is currently 1-1 on the year and are coming off their most recent 1-3 loss to UC Irvine.
Current Pepperdine players to keep an eye on would be outside hitting seniors Alex Harthaller and Colby Harriman. At 6’6”, Harthaller is second on the overall kill point count for his team at 22 so far on the season; he also averages a 3.67 kill per set ratio along with a hitting percentage of .286.
Meanwhile, Harriman leads Pepperdine with a first place kill point count of 24; paired with a 3.43 kill per set ratio and a .204 hitting percentage. These two players have so far proven that they are reliable targets when it comes to getting points up on the board.
Look for new primary setter Robert Mullahey to get them going early as the 6’4” squad athlete will look to get his two outside hitters going early on. With 80 assists through his first two games, watch for the game script to revolve around his success or lack thereof.
As for the Gauchos, their two starting outside hitters have also been very productive. Sophomore Roy McFarland and junior Corey Chavers both lead as well in the kill point count for UCSB.
McFarland currently tallies a total of 33 kills, a 3.00 kill per set ratio, and an impressive hitting percentage of .397. As for his teammate, Chavers leads his team unit with 36 overall; including a 3.27 kill per set ratio, and a .240 hitting percentage.
In terms of their setters, UCSB have been rotating in and out two different players in Randy DeWeese and Casey McGarry. So far DeWeese has received the bulk of control with a total of 62 assists on the season; whereas McGarry is following close behind at 50 assists overall.
Historically speaking, UCSB hasn’t had much success over Pepperdine considering their all time record of 38-68. Last year even featured a 1-3 loss for the Gauchos where they were also on the road against Pepperdine.
In terms of current Gaucho standings, the team ranks 3rd in the Big West conference for both the statistical categories of blocking, 2.64 per game, and digs, 8.36 per game.
Nationally speaking however, these Gaucho scoring stats have also booked them a top-15 standing in blocking at No. 7, No. 11 in attacks per game with 27.6, and No. 12 in serving with 1.73 aces per game.
Overall, the UCSB Men’s Volleyball team is shaping up to be something special this year.
Considering their Big West competitors of Long Beach State, CSUN, and Hawai’i are currently all undefeated so far in preseason play, the Gauchos still have a while to go before asserting league dominance; not to mention that UC Irvine and UC San Diego are also both above a .800 win percentage.
UCSB will face off away from home this Saturday, January 20th, at 6 PM; the host Pepperdine will hold the match in their Firestone Fieldhouse athletic facility.