MUNCIE, Ind. – The No. 12 UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team held off a comeback attempt from No. 14 Ball State to capture a five-set thriller, 3-2 (22-25, 25-18, 25-15, 15-25, 15-13) at Worthen Arena in Muncie, Indiana on Friday night.
With the win, the Gauchos (4-3) snap a three-game skid while picking up their first road victory of the season.
Corey Chavers led the offensive attack all night, turning in a team-high 21 kills while freshman Haotian Xia piled up a career-high 18 kills on 34 attempts for a .382 hitting percentage. As a team, UCSB hit .311 (57-19-122) to Ball State's .276 (57-23-123).
Despite dropping the first set after jumping out to a quick lead, the Gauchos were able to turn it around in the second and hold on for a strong 25-18 win. The set started similar to the first as Santa Barbara took an early 6-2 lead, only to see the Cardinals rally back to tie the score at 9-9. The two teams traded points, until a 6-1 run sparked by Chavers and Xia, gave the Gauchos the separation they needed to seal the set.
UCSB carried the momentum into the third set, hitting an incredible .550 with 12 kills on 20 attempts and just one error to roll to a 25-15 win and take a 2-1 lead.
Looking to put the match away in the fourth, the Gauchos saw Ball State match UCSB's third set with a 25-15 win of their own while hitting nearly .500 to force a fifth set.
In the final frame, Chavers tallied three kills in the first five plays to help Santa Barbara out to an early 4-1 lead, only to have the Cardinals rally to tie the score at 6-6. After a kill from Keenan Sanders, Xia came through with a clutch service ace to create a two-point lead, 8-6, and after a Ball State point, Ryan Wilcox came through with a kill and service ace to give UCSB a 10-7 lead. The Cardinals rallied once again, tying the score at 13, before Xia slammed down a kill to give UCSB match point, and a Ball State attacking error sealed the victory for the Gauchos.
Casey McGarry handled the setting duties with 46 assists on the night while adding a game-high 12 digs for the double-double. Hayden Boehle also reached double-figures with 10 digs and freshman Brandon Hicks recorded a game-high six total blocks at the net. Along with Chavers and Xia, Wilcox was strong on the offensive end, finishing with seven kills while Sanders added five.
UCSB concludes its road trip tomorrow night, Jan. 19, at 4:00 p.m. PT against No. 13 Purdue Fort Wayne.