After having its four-match win streak snapped on Wednesday, the No. 8-ranked UCSB men’s volleyball team responded by gutting out a five-set win at No. 9 Grand Canyon that went down to the wire: 22-25, 25-23, 25-21, 14-25, 20-18.
The Gauchos (6-4) improved to 2-1 on the road this season and have now won 14 of their last 16 matches against ranked opponents.
It was a career night for UCSB’s outside hitters. Senior Ryan Wilcox crossed the 20-kill mark for the first time this season and his third time in a Gaucho uniform, tying a career-best with 21 (.304) to go along with three aces. Sophomore Dayne Chalmers also set a new personal-high with 12 kills (.231). UCSB is now 5-1 with Chalmers in the lineup this year.
Sophomore Donovan Todorov reached double-digit kills for his first time as a Gaucho, hitting at a .444 clip and adding three blocks. Fellow middle blocker Brandon Hicks had a team-high .462 kill percentage on an eight-kill night.
Following a two-match absence, sophomore setter Patrick Paragas returned with a 41-assist, nine-dig performance. It was his third-highest assist total of 2022.
It was a huge night at the service line for sophomore outside hitter Nick Amoruso, who finished with five kills and five aces, the most of any Gaucho this season. Over his last three matches, he has eight aces, averaging an outstanding 0.73 aces per set.
GCU won the first set 25-22.
Both teams had their worst hitting performance in the opening set, with GCU taking a .037 to .028 edge.
The Antelopes (6-4) jumped out to a 4-0 lead, and despite UCSB coming back to tie it at 10-10 on an ace by Chalmers, the home side never trailed.
GCU ended the game on a 7-4 run before Camden Gianni’s kill sealed the 1-0 lead. Gianni ended his night with 20 kills, one shy of Wilcox’s match-high.
UCSB went on to win the second set 25-23.
The set was incredibly close throughout. Neither team led by more than a point until a Gianni attacking error gave UCSB a 24-22 lead. Gianni answered back with a kill on the next point, but Paragas set up Todorov to put it away at 25-23 and tie the match at one set apiece.
There were 21 ties and eight lead changes in the second game, the most for either category on the night.
Then UCSB won the third set 25-21.
UCSB kept its momentum going in this tightly contested set. The Gauchos took their first three-point lead on an Antelope attacking error to make it 22-19. The same result made it a 24-20 game several points later.
Wilcox finished things off with his fifth kill of the set. It was his second of three straight games with at least five kills.
GSU won the fourth set 25-14.
The Antelopes extended the match with the most lopsided set of the night, as they enjoyed a .500 to .190 hitting advantage. An extended 13-5 run put them up by double-digits at 20-10.
GCU ended up taking its largest lead of the night, 24-12, on a kill by Christian Janke.
Then UCSB won the fifth set 20-18.
The match tightened up once more in the decisive fifth set. UCSB fought back from a 7-4 deficit, as Chalmers put away back-to-back kills to start a 4-0 run.
The two sides found themselves tied at every point from 10 to 18. The Gauchos survived two match points and kept the pressure on, eventually earning their fourth match point on a kill by Todorov. Leading 19-18, Wilcox set his new career-high with his 21st kill, sealing the win in the Gauchos’ longest fifth set in nearly four years.
Michael Jorgenson writes about sports for UCSB.