The No. 6 UCSB men’s volleyball team stepped up every time it needed to on Friday against No. 13 BYU, showing off its defensive prowess and never trailing by more than a single point in any set in a convincing sweep of the Cougars, 25-21, 25-18, 25-23.
The Gauchos (8-4) leaned on their depth to win their third straight match overall and fourth straight at home. It was their third sweep in their last six contests at Rob Gym.
Middle blocker Dain Johnson earned his second start of the year and finished with six kills and four blocks on a team-best .625 hitting percentage. Fellow sophomore Rees Barnett finished with a match-best three aces.
Outside hitters Ryan Wilcox (11 kills) and Nick Amoruso (10) reached double-figures together for the third time this year. Wilcox also finished with five blocks.
Sophomore setter Patrick Paragas went for 32 assists and doubled his previous career-high with six blocks. Middle blocker Donovan Todoror matched him for team-high honors with six blocks.
It was a huge defensive night from outside hitter Dayne Chalmers, who set a personal-best with 13 digs, averaging a whopping 4.3 per set.
UCSB won the first set 25-21.
A balanced defense saw the Gauchos take a 5-0 block advantage in the opening set, holding BYU to a .176 hitting percentage.
UCSB fended the Cougars off throughout, never allowing them to take the lead. After BYU fought back to tie it at 18-18, the Gauchos responded with four straight points to pull away. They picked up their final two points of the set with big blocks from the trio of Todorov, Paragas and Chalmers.
UCSB then won the second set 25-18.
The Gauchos got a big set two out of Wilcox, who went for six kills hitting at a .444 clip. BYU couldn’t find the openings in the UCSB defense, hitting .000 as a team.
Santa Barbara took an early 13-8 lead on one of Wilcox’s powerful downward slams. The Gauchos would take a seven-point lead on multiple occasions, the last of which sealed the 25-18 win via another triple block, this time by Wilcox, Paragas and Johnson.
The triple block seals game two, and the Gauchos are one set away from winning their fourth straight at Rob Gym!
And UCSB won the third set 25-23.
UCSB opened set three with a 3-0 advantage, but BYU took its latest lead in any game with a 4-0 run to go up 11-10. A timely timeout was followed by four straight Gaucho points, as Paragas put UCSB up with an ace and Amoruso capped the run with one of his 10 kills.
Todorov gave the Gauchos their largest lead of the set with a kill to make it 20-14. BYU made things interesting late, showing perseverance to win some long rallies and surviving a match point to make it 24-23. However, a final Cougar serve went long, ending the match.
Michael Jorgenson writes about sports for UCSB.