UC Santa Barbara rallied past UC San Diego in four sets in the title match of the Big West men’s volleyball tournament tonight at SimpliFi Arena.
No. 3 and second-seeded UC Santa Barbara dropped the first set against UC San Diego and was two points away from going two sets down. The Gauchos rallied to even the match then surged past the Tritons in a 22-25, 27-25, 25-21, 25-20 win to claim the program’s first Big West tournament championship and the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
UCSB senior Randy DeWeese put down 13 kills and Punahou graduate Ryan Wilcox added 12 as the Gauchos (15-4) wore down the Tritons (5-13), who had played nine sets over the previous two nights in their improbable run to the tournament final.
>> PHOTOS: Big West men’s volleyball final
Wilcox was named the tournament MVP in his homecoming week and the Gauchos earned their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011.
The Gauchos managed to grind out their sixth win over UCSD this season despite hitting .190 with 20 attack errors. UCSD finished the night hitting .173 with 27 errors.
All-Big West setter Casey McGarry 40 assists and 10 digs and was in on four of the Gauchos’ 14.5 blocks. UCSB senior opposite Keenan Sanders was in on seven blocks, teaming with Roy McFarland for a roof on match point.
Kyle McCauley and Collin Shannon led UC San Diego with 13 kills each and Ryan Ka finished with 12.