The No. 6 UCSB men’s volleyball team came away with another win over No. 13 BYU on Saturday night at Rob Gym, making big plays throughout in a thrilling four-set victory, 25-22, 28-26, 26-28, 26-24.
The Gauchos (9-4) won their fourth straight match and eighth in their last nine outings while handing the Cougars (5-7) their fifth straight defeat.
This was UCSB’s first match of the season where both teams hit at a .350 clip. The Gauchos didn’t hit over .300 in their previous five matches. Outside hitters Dayne Chalmers (.364) and Ryan Wilcox (.367) led the offense with 16 and 15 kills, respectively.
Sophomore middle blocker Donovan Todorov set a career-high with 11 kills and tied his season-best .667 hitting percentage. He also had two blocks.
With 47 assists, sophomore setter Patrick Paragas set a new personal-best for assists per set (11.8). He also added two kills, seven digs and a block.
For the third straight match, sophomore outside hitter Nick Amoruso went for double-digit kills (11). Prior to this run, he had crossed the 10-kill mark just once.
Getting the start for the second straight time, sophomore middle blocker Dain Johnson tallied a career-high five blocks, one more than he had in the previous win over BYU.
UCSB won the first set 25-22.
It was another fast start for the Gauchos, who took a 10-5 lead on Todorov’s first kill of the night. BYU answered with a 10-5 run of its own to tie it at 15-15.
The two sides traded blows down the stretch, but the Gauchos took two key points late. A great service reception from Wilcox gave Paragas time to set up Amoruso for a huge kill, putting UCSB up 23-21. Todorov added another kill to make it 24-22 and a final BYU attack went long to seal the 25-22 win.
UCSB then won the second set 28-26.
BYU looked like a different team in the second game, apart from its serving, which helped keep the Gauchos in it. The Cougars had nine service errors in set two alone, killing their momentum each time and stopping them from taking more than a three-point lead.
UCSB overcame a set point with a big kill from Wilcox and the final two BYU serves went into the net, leading to a Johnson-Amoruso block to end the set in UCSB’s favor, 28-26.
BYU took the third set 28-26.
The Gauchos appeared to be in control and on their way to a second straight sweep, leading 20-15 following an Amoruso kill. However, BYU inched its way back into things, scoring three straight to tie it at 23-23.
Wilcox kills set UCSB up with match point at 24-23, and again at 25-24, but the Cougars pulled off the comeback, flipping the score from game two to extend it to a fourth set.
UCSB wrapped up the night by winning the fourth set 26-24.
For the third straight time, a set would require extra points to be settled. Neither team held a lead of more than three points, and yet another BYU service error tied it at 21-21.
A fiercely fought battle saw BYU in position to extend the match to a fifth set, leading 24-23. UCSB went to its star hitters from there, as Chalmers tied it on the next point, and Wilcox picked up two clutch, well-placed kills on the following two to end the night.
With four matches left in their home stand, the Gauchos will get back to action next Thursday looking for their fifth straight win against No. 11 UC San Diego at 7 p.m.
Michael Jorgenson writes about sports for UCSB.