Honor comes as UCSB advances to semifinals
It’s deja volleyball for UCSB, all over again.
The four Gauchos who won All-America honors as seniors last year agreed to return for a do-over after the COVID-19 pandemic shortened their season. And the results have been the same.
Coach Rick McLaughlin was named Tuesday as the USMC/AVCA Men’s Coach of the Year for the second straight season after leading UCSB back to the No. 3 spot in the national rankings. His four returning seniors also all made the All-America team.
The Gauchos (16-4) continued their quest for the school’s first NCAA men’s volleyball championship with Tuesday’s 3-1, quarterfinal victory over Pepperdine at the Covelli Center in Columbus, Ohio. Senior right-side hitter Randy DeWeese had 21 kills, a .340 hitting percentage and 13 digs while Roy McFarland also had 21 kills while hitting .317 in the 25-23, 25-22, 22-25, 28-26 victory.
DeWeese’s kill gave UCSB a 27-26 lead in the fourth game while setter Casey McGarry put away the final kill.
Both DeWeese and McGarry were named this week to the All-America first team while McFarland and middle attacker Keenan Sanders were second-team picks.
Junior outside hitter Ryan Wilcox, who won Big West Conference Tournament MVP honors after leading the Gauchos to the championship, received All-America honorable mention.
McLaughlin said the decision that last year’s four seniors made to return for another season provided extra motivation for this year’s squad.
“It just makes us play a lot harder and realize what we have to do to make adjustments,” McLaughlin said. “And these guys just find a way to win.”
They did so again on Tuesday with their 11th straight victory, putting them into Thursday’s 2 p.m. semifinal against top-ranked Hawaii (15-1). The winner of that match will advance to Saturday’s 5 p.m. final.
Gauchos win NCAA berths
Both the UCSB men’s and women’s tennis teams have received automatic NCAA Tournament bids after winning the Big West Conference Tournament last weekend. Both will play their NCAA openers at 10 a.m. Friday.
The men will face Pepperdine at USC’s David X. Marks Tennis Stadium. That match will be followed at 1 p.m. by a first-round contest between USC and Grand Canyon.
“I feel fortunate that we received a No. 3 seed in our pod,” UCSB coach Marty Davis said. “There have been times in the past that I thought we should be a three and we got a four, so this is very good for us.”
The Gauchos defeated Cal Poly 4-3 on Sunday to win the Big West Conference championship for a record sixth consecutive time. The Gauchos have won seven of the last eight league crowns and 14 overall. Davis has coached UCSB to its last 13 championships.
“We were supposed to play Pepperdine earlier this season but, because of COVID-19, we didn’t,” he said. “They have a great program with lots of tradition. We’re very excited for this opportunity and look forward to it.”
UCSB’s Big West title and NCAA bid came in dramatic fashion, with freshman Pablo Masjuan winning a thrilling three-set match at No. 4 singles. All three sets went to a tiebreaker, with Masjuan pulling out a 6-7 (1), 7-6 (7) and 7-6 (3) win over Cal Poly’s Joe Leather, Masjuan saved six match points in the second-set tiebreaker.
“For a freshman to have that weight on his shoulders and to win it the way he did is very special,” Davis said.
The UCSB women won their Big West title more convincingly, beating Cal Poly 4-0 on Saturday to extend their winning streak to 12 matches. The championship is the Gauchos’ ninth and third in the last five seasons.
The Gauchos (13-3) will face No. 28 Stanford in Friday’s first-round match at the Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center on the campus of Pepperdine in Malibu. The winner will advance to face the winner of the Pepperdine-Northern Arizona match.
UCSB is led by junior Shakhnoza Khatamova, currently ranked No. 108 after going 15-2 in singles and 8-5 in doubles.
TRACK AND FIELD
Gauchos’ Camarena sets record
UCSB senior Katie Camarena set a school record in the women’s 3,000 meters by clocking 9:19.38 in a meet against Cal Poly. Her time of 2:06.56 in the 800 meters ranks fourth all-time in Gaucho history.
“Katie stole the show with her 3000m school record, going solo from the gun right into the wind,” coach Cody Fleming said.
UCSB’s McGreevy honored
UCSB’s Michael McGreevy was named as both the Big West Pitcher of the Week while also being named as one of Collegiate Baseball’s National Players of the Week.
The sophomore righthander fell just one short strikeout short of tying the Gauchos’ all-time record by whiffing 15 batters in Friday’s victory over Cal Poly. The record of 16 is shared by Mario Hollands (2010), Barry Zito (1997), and Walt Rehm (1970).
McGreevy gave up no walks, just two hits and one run.
Westmont to host regional
The NAIA announced that Westmont College will be one of nine host sites for the Opening Round regional of the NAIA College World Series. Beginning on May 17 and going through May 20 (if necessary), the Warriors will play host to five teams in a double-elimination tournament, with a trip to the World Series in Lewiston, Idaho on the line.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” coach Robert Ruiz said. “We think we have a great facility and a great location to do it, and we’ve proven before that we can put on a great tournament.”
This will be the third time in program history that the Warriors host an Opening Round, including the most recent tournament back in 2019. This year’s team has a win-loss record of 28-20.