Leonard Paulasa / The Daily Nexus

This Friday, the UCSB men’s volleyball team travels to Columbus, Ohio to take on Ohio State. This should be another tough road test for the Gauchos as Ohio State has been playing outstanding volleyball to start the year. When you look at the updated weekly rankings, UCSB has been able to maintain its spot at No. 3 in the country despite two tough losses to No. 2 BYU last weekend. As for Ohio State, they became ranked for the first time this week, grabbing a hold of the No. 15 position. Both teams have their work cut out for them in this battle of top collegiate programs. 

Both of these schools have been playing really well in the early stages of the 2020 season. Ohio State comes in with an 8-1 record and the top stop in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association. They have picked up some impressive wins, including 3-0 victories over USC and No. 9 Penn State. Their only loss of the year was a 3-1 loss to No. 7 UCLA. The Buckeyes have a strong one-two punch at the outside hitter position this year with Reese Devilbiss and Martin Lallemand. Both of these guys are upperclassmen and provide a large majority of their teams offensive production. They both have 91 kills on the year, far ahead of any other players on their roster. If UCSB wants to be successful this Friday, slowing down these two should be a key point of the  game plan. 

As for UC Santa Barbara, they come into the week with a 6-2 record, trailing only No. 1 Hawaiʻi in the Big West Conference. Last week, they suffered two tough losses against No. 2 BYU, but as of late they are still playing top-tier volleyball. Before last week, this team had 3-0 swept every team they had gone up against,partly because of players like Casey McGarry. The senior setter has been lights out this year, picking up 30+ assists in every game but one. He currently sits at a ridiculous 292 assists through eight games. The next closest guy, Grady Yould, is at just 23; this shows how pivotal McGarry is to the Gauchos offensive success. Ohio State should have their hands full with this high-octane UCSB attack. 

Another interesting fact to note about this game is that these two teams played each other for a NCAA Championship back in 2011. Ohio State won that matchup as the teams faced off in Pennsylvania. Sure, that match was nearly 10 years ago and none of those players are around anymore, but could revenge still be on the Gauchos mind this upcoming weekend? Could be! 

UCSB has another great opportunity ahead of them, a chance to bounce back after a tough week and pick up a gritty road win versus a top team in college volleyball. I think UCSB is looking for a statement road win to prove they belong as one of the top teams in the nation. The match’s opening serve is at 4 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio. You can watch the match online here: https://ohiostatebuckeyes.com/watch-live-volleyball-on-buckeye-vision/