Leonard Paulasa / The Daily Nexus

UC Santa Barbara men’s volleyball team is on the road this week, set to take on UC Los Angeles at Pauley Pavilion this Wednesday. UCSB comes into this one as the No. 3 team in the country with an 8-2 record. The match should be a good one, as UCLA is the No. 8 team in the country, holding a 7-5 record. After a week with no matches for UCSB, the players must feel ready and excited for a chance to play another top-ranked opponent. As for UCLA, they want nothing more than an upset win versus the Gauchos in front of their home crowd. It would be huge toward their resume when considering the national ranks. Wednesday’s contest looks to be a battle of college volleyball heavyweights. 

UCSB has been playing exceptional volleyball early in this 2020 season. The last  two games went phenomenally for Santa Barbara. They won 3-1 at No. 15 Ohio State and 3-2 against No. 9 Penn State the following day. The Penn State match was utter madness — a rollercoaster of emotions. UCSB went down early and ended up losing the first two sets. The Gauchos never looked defeated though, as they would claw their way back, winning the next two sets and forcing a fifth and final set. In that final set, the teams traded blows, but ultimately UCSB came out on top and completed an unlikely 0-2 comeback. 

A large reason for the Gauchos success has been thanks to stellar play by some of their senior leaders. Setter Casey McGarry has been playing lights out this season, racking up 30+ assists in every game but one for the Gauchos. The team’s leading scorer to start the year has been outside hitter Randy DeWeese. He has been racking up kills (122) at an intriguing rate of 3.39 kills per set. These two seniors should have a big impact on the outcome of Wednesday’s match.

As for UCLA, a lot of their losses this season seem to be because of inexperience at the college level. The majority of their offensive load falls on the shoulders of two freshmen. Outside hitters Cole Ketrzynski and Alex Knight are one and two on the team in kills. Ketrzynski who has 126 kills and Knight who has 87 kills on the year have both been playing beyond their years. The Bruins will likely be relying heavily on these two in Wednesday’s match. 

All signs point to UCSB coming out and putting on a show at Wednesday night’s match. This is the Gaucho’s final road match before returning home to play Pepperdine this weekend. UCSB hasn’t had a home game in over a month now, so it makes sense that they would like to go into that first home stretch riding some good momentum. 

The match is being played this Wednesday at 7 p.m. on the campus of UCLA, in Pauley Pavilion. If you can’t make it to Los Angeles to support your Gauchos, you can still watch, as the game will be livestreamed on the Pac-12 network’s website.