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College Volleyball

UCSB Scratches Out 5-Set Win over UCSD in First Big West Men’s Volleyball Match

No. 13 UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego faced off Friday night at Rob Gym in the first-ever Big West men's volleyball league match, and the already-historic event proved itself to be one for the record books.

The Gauchos outlasted the Tritons 3-2 in a wild, back-and-forth affair, needing extra points to clinch the fifth set after allowing the visitors to come back from a 2-0 deficit. 

Set scores for the match were 25-20, 30-28, 28-30, 16-25, 20-18.

UCSB improved to 5-5, 1-0 with the victory while UCSD dropped to 8-7, 0-1. 

Led by sophomore opposite Keenan Sanders's eight kills on 10 attempts (21 kills, career-high nine digs overall), UCSB came out swinging in the first, taking it to the Tritons to the tune of a .419 hitting percentage. The Gauchos pulled away in the first thanks to a 5-1 run late, capped off by back-to-back kills from Sanders, that turned a one-point lead into a comfortable 22-17 advantage.

UCSB eked out an extremely-tight second set, with the two teams practically trading points from 15-15 on. UCSB was able to break through on its fifth game point, as Sanders's fourth kill of the frame sent sophomore setter Randy DeWeese (season highs of 53 assists and 13 digs while adding four kills on four dump attempts) to the service line.  He found a seam on the right side of the court and snuck his jump serve inside the far line for an ace to put the Gauchos up 2-0. 

Things took a sharp turn in the third set, with the visitors coming back from a 24-21. 

San Diego rode that momentum into the fourth set, hitting .333 to UCSB's .040. National kills leader Tanner Syftestad, who started off relatively cool, heated up in the fourth with five kills on nine swings.

Neither team would end up opening a lead greater than two in the deciding fifth set, setting up a dogfight down the stretch. 

UCSB nullified UCSD's match point at 14-13 with a quick hit from Drake, then kept the pressure on with five consecutive match points. While UCSD held them off for a while, the Gauchos eventually closed it out with a left-side spike from Sanders after a nice pass from Chavers helped extend the rally. Drake, who had three kills on as many swings, and Chavers, who had a team-high 3.5 points, were invaluable to the fifth set victory.

Other key contributors for UCSB included sophomore libero Grady Yould, who notched his fifth double-digit dig performance of the season while matching his career-high with 18 scoops, and redshirt sophomore Brandon Hopper, who chipped in seven kills and five blocks. 

The Gauchos will hit the road next week, traveling south for a make-up date with USC on Thursday night and a re-match with UCSD on Friday night.

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